New Research Tomatoes, Peas, and 8 other Crops have been Grown in Mars-equivalent Soil -

New Research Tomatoes, Peas, and 8 other Crops have been Grown in Mars-equivalent Soil

In an experiment test how well we can grow crops in space, scientists have manage to harvest 10 crops, including tomatoes, peas, and rye, from soil that mimics the situation on Mars.
Although the Mars-equivalent soil produced slightly fewer crops than regular Earth soil, the difference wasn't giant, suggesting that, in the right conditions, early settlers might be clever to sustainably feed themselves with crops full-grown on the Red Planet. The vision of a Martian colony just got a little bit closer.
The manufacture of biomass on the Mars soil simulant was inferior to on Earth control, but it was a minor difference and cause by one of the trays that show less growth," said guide researcher Wieger Wamelink from Wageningen University & study centre in the Netherlands. "That was a genuine surprise to us. It shows that the Mars soil simulant has huge potential when properly ready and watered."
New Research Tomatoes, Peas, and 8 other Crops have been Grown in Mars-equivalent Soil
The researchers also grew the similar 10 crops - tomato, rye, radish, pea, leek, spinach, garden rocket, cress, quinoa, and chives - in soil that mimicked Moon soil, and showed that these crops were concerning half as winning as Mars crops, with spinach in particular stressed in the lunar environment.
So how do you find soil that's chemically similar to kind you'd discover outside of Earth? You head to some of the the majority extreme places on our planet. The 'Mars' soil come from a volcano on Hawaii, while 'Moon' soil was collected in a desert in Arizona. These were then mixed with fresh cut grass in shallow trays, which complete it easier to water the crops. A manage tray contained regular Earth potting dung.
Before you get too keyed up and start packing your gardening gear for Mars, there are a hardly any things to flag here - first of all, the results haven't been in print, so we're currently taking Wageningen University's word for it (for the evidence, this is their second trial on space crops, so it's not an unreliable word to take, but we're forever wary until we see peer-reviewed findings).

The study as well only mimicked soil on Mars and the Moon, and not the relax of their conditions - such as the harsh space radiation, or the bitter heat & cold.
The crops were grown in a glass house under Earth's atmosphere, with steady humidity, light, and temperature - but Wamelik explain that this is because "we wait for that first crop growth on Mars and Moon will take place in underground rooms to defend the plants from the hostile environment". That's fair enough, but we still can't predict exactly how being on another planet will influence the process.
Finally, the the majority crucial phase of the trial - determining whether these plants are safe to eat - hasn't commence as yet. And there's no point growing crops if they're leaving to poison us.
"The soils contain heavy metals like guide, arsenic, and mercury and as well a lot of iron," said Wamelink. "If the components become obtainable for the plants, they may be taken up and discover their way into the fruits, creation them poisonous."
The team is now crowdfunding further study on this subject, with experiments scheduled to start in April this year.
But in spite of the limitations, it's still pretty thrilling to know that soil on the Red Planet is capable of growing our food crops - because there's not anything more reassuring when you're billions of kilometres from home than new vegetables.
Previous year, astronauts also managed to grow and eat the first lettuce on board the International Space Station - which, tbh, look pretty tasty - so we're getting closer to being clever to pull a Mark Watney and farm extraterrestrial land than ever previous to. Bring it on.
first lettuce full-grown and eaten in space

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