NASA teams up with Florida Tech Buzz Aldrin Space Institute to help figure out ways to make Martian farming a reality
NASA is planning to send humans on Mars and to establish a colony there. But its vision faces many hurdles and one of biggest challenges to send humans to Mars is how to grow food on a cold and toxic world in outer space.
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Humans do need food for their survival in ultra-hostile environment of space and providing a nutritious food for future Red Planet travelers could be a difficult aspect of planning the trip. So the easiest way could probably be growing your own food on Martian soil.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is partnering with the Florida Institute of Technology lab to help figure out the ways to make Martian farming a reality. For this purpose, they have developed ‘Martian garden,’ which can replicate Mars condition and help them find the best veggies to grow on Mars.
“We are using advances in science to learn about increasing plant production to supplement astronauts’ diets.” Trent Smith, Veggie Project Manager at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida said. Veggie is the plant-growth system in International Space Station designed to experiment the production of crops in space.
The soil on Mars actually does have the nutrients plants would need to grow on Mars but they are may be not in right amount, so fertilizers may need to be added to the soil.
To replicate Mars’ soil, the 100 pounds of simulant was brought from Hawaii. The Florida Tech team is now expermenting with which and how much nutrients should be added to the simulant for optimal plant growth of various crops.
Discoveries made in these Earth-based “Martian gardens” will not only help scientists understand what kind of crops could be grown in space but could also have an impact here on Earth too.
“Thinking about ways to live on Mars is the ultimate test of sustainability," said lead researcher Daniel Batcheldor, professor of physics and space sciences at Florida Tech.
"Learning to grow plants in an inhospitable environment like Mars could help us maximize food productivity and minimize the use of precious resources such as water and fertilizer back here on Earth."