Edible Crops Grown in Martian Soil

Margherita Olivo
July 5th 2016

Colonizing Mars has always been a human fantasy, and scientists now brought us a step closer to this dream. Since 2013, researchers at Wageningen University have been investigating the behavior of crops on Mars and Moon soil simulants. They demonstrated the growth and edibility of these crops, and several of them are also safe for human consumption.

wageningen-ur-mars-crops

The only remaining problem is the presence of heavy metals in the soil. They could contaminate the crops if high levels are absorbed in the edible part of the plant, making it poisonous. It is still unknown if the take up of heavy metals is the same on Earth as it would be under the lower gravity conditions found on Mars and the Moon. Only a research ‘on site’ will give an answer. As in for now, the scientists have tested four of the ten grown crops for heavy metals: radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes. No dangerous levels of aluminium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, chrome, nickel and lead were found, meaning the four crops are safe to eat. Some even resulted to be healthier than those grown with regular Earth soil.

radish-mars-wageningen

“These remarkable results are very promising,” said senior ecologist Wieger Wamelink. “We can actually eat the radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes and I am very curious what they will taste like. [...] It’s important to test as many crops as possible, to make sure that settlers on Mars have access to a broad variety of different food sources". 

This very promising research has now been turned into a crowdfunding, you can get involved here.

Source: Wageningen UR

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