A major new finding about the Red Planet could have huge implications for a future manned mission there in the coming decades.
A massive new discovery by scientists at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima, Peru shows that we could potentially support human life on Mars, because it appears that it’s indeed possible to grow potatoes on the planet’s surface. Scientists with the International Potato Center were able to recreate growing conditions similar to Mars inside a CubeSat designed at the university.
The box works by mimicking Mars day and night patterns, temperatures, air pressure, and atmospheric composition. It’s a big find that would indicate it’s possible to create a self-sustaining colony on Mars, as a permanent settlement would obviously need to figure out how to grow their own food.
The potato was used because it is a very adaptive and dynamic plant. It is very good a surviving very rough soils and tremendous drought. And it appears that they can handle the harsh conditions of Martian soil as well, at least so far.
“Lima (Peru) The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth,” the statement from the Cgiar Research Center reads. “This Phase Two effort of CIP’s proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California.”
“Growing crops under Mars-like conditions is an important phase of this experiment,” says Julio Valdivia-Silva, a research associate with the SETI Institute who has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center (NASA ARC) and now works at UTEC in Lima. “If the crops can tolerate the extreme conditions that we are exposing them to in our CubeSat, they have a good chance to grow on Mars. We will do several rounds of experiments to find out which potato varieties do best. “We want to know what the minimum conditions are that a potato needs to survive,” he said.