NASA has plans to start potato farming on the surface of Mars.
A team of researchers has plans to plant potatoes in the arid conditions of Mars. This is to rid the world of poverty and hunger. Millions of lives of those who are starving can be saved via this bold procedure.
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The venture is being funded by NASA and CIP. It involves building a controlled dome on Mars. This will hold huge swathes of crops of potatoes. And it will be a demo of how potatoes can be grown in such extreme conditions.
"How better to learn about climate change than by growing crops on a planet that died two billion years ago?" said Joel Ranck, CIP Head of Communications. "We need people to understand that if we can grow potatoes in extreme conditions like those on Mars, we can save lives on Earth."
Potatoes are a very resilient crop. They show incredible capacity for growth and regrowth in the most inhospitable of milieus. Thus the decision was taken to plant potatoes in the soil of Mars.
Also areas of the world where the temperature and soil are absolutely exasperating can be used to grow potatoes. Such is the hardiness and viral nature of this crop.
The plans to grow potatoes on a planet that lost all signs of life two billion years ago is a bold venture alright. If potatoes can be grown on Mars, they can be grown anywhere on the earth as well.
At present, famine affects 842 million people across the globe. Due to climate change, the increase of plant vectors and inhospitable conditions leads to a dearth in crops. Poverty, food scarcity and under-nutrition remain the main challenges.
Potatoes thrive in places where other crops fail to take root. They are also very filling and full of nutriment. Vitamin C, iron and zinc can be found in plentiful amounts in potatoes. The very micro-nutrients that are missing from the diets of the destitute can be found in the lowly potato. It is indeed a wonder food.
"I am excited to put potatoes on Mars and even more so that we can use a simulated Martian terrain so close to the area where potatoes originated." said Julio E. Valdivia-Silva, SETI Researcher Associate of NASA, who is leading the project's science team. The project is led by Will Rust, Creative Director of Memac Ogilvy Dubai.
After the Mars missions grow potatoes, simulation centers will be built on earth that will reproduce the conditions on the Red Planet. The research coming from NASA and the CIP will further enhance the durability and longevity of this program.
The potato can indeed be the solution to world hunger. It is nourishing, filling and delicious to boot. Soils identical to those found on Mars are being used to test the hypothesis whether potatoes will grow on the Red Planet.
The problem is that the Martian climate consists almost entirely of carbon dioxide. Extraterrestrial farming sure is a brand new concept in the repertoire of science. And science will lead us out of our dilemmas.
"The extraordinary efforts of the team have set the bar for extraterrestrial farming. The idea of growing food for human colonies in space could be a reality very soon." said Chris McKay, planetary scientist of the NASA Ames research centre.
Melissa Guzman, Astrobiologist at NASA Ames, stated, "The image of students building plant growth payloads and communicating virtually from labs in California, Lima, and Dubai is exciting for the future of planetary exploration and astrobiology.
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"We see the science, educational, and humanitarian goals as being intertwined. In the process of working together toward establishing a community on Mars, our students will also be establishing a community on Earth," she added.