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You can grow food on Mars, says Researcher

The Hague: Growing food on a frozen desert planet with a suffocatingly thin atmosphere, however, will be a challenge. Scientists are now bioengineering plants that can grow on mars.To investigate whether it is possible to
India TV News Desk January 17, 2014 11:39 IST
India TV News Desk
The Hague: Growing food on a frozen desert planet with a suffocatingly thin atmosphere, however, will be a challenge. Scientists are now bioengineering plants that can grow on mars.

To investigate whether it is possible to grow plants in the soil of Mars and on the moon, researchers undertook an experiment with 14 plant species on artificial Martian and lunar soil, provided by NASA, Xinhua reported. The experiment lasted 50 days.

"The outcome was quite a big surprise," said Wamelink. "Some species such as rye and cress were already sprouting within 24 hours. Eventually plants on Mars soil were even blossoming. We fertilized them with a brush, with some even seeding. It was exciting to watch. Tomato plants were growing and carrot plants even had small carrots, cress formed seeds."

A total of 840 pots were planted with 4,200 seeds. Mars and moon sand, supplied by NASA, so-called regolith, is the best possible imitation of real Mars and moon sand. The basis for this is volcanic soil of Hawaii and sand from Arizona.

"We did not know what would happen when we added water to the soil. What turned out is that the Martian soil holds water well, while the moon sand does not."

All plants germinated in the Martian soil. The seeds of agricultural crops such as rye and cress germinated best, some wild plants germinated a lot worse.

After 50 days in the greenhouse, a large proportion of the plants were still alive. Compared to the nutrient-poor river sands of the Rhine from 10 metres deep layers, the plants did even better in the Martian soil.