February 19, 2020 | 10:28 AM IST

NASA grows crops on Mars and Lunar soil simulant

NASA scientists have successfully produced 10 crops species in Mars and Lunar soil stimulant at Wageningen University and Research in Netherlands. The study supports the thought that it is possible to grow crops on the two simulants. The crops that were grown included tomatoes, spinach, peas, garden cress, rocket, rye, quinoa, chives, leek and radish. The study has been published in the journal Open Agriculture.

Lead author of the study Dr Wieger Wamelink said, “A human settlement on Mars or the Moon is becoming more realistic. Several countries and private companies are preparing for this journey to ensure food availability and safety.” 

The researchers stated that if humans were to establish their base on the Moon or Mars in the future, they would be required to grow their crops and this experiment could come handy then.

The simulants were blended with organic matter and crops were sown randomly in different trays. Except for spinach, all the others grew well. Seeds produced by radish, rye and garden cress were tested successfully for germination. The researchers blended the properties of Red Planet and Lunar regolith and used Earth soil as a control. 

The biomass production on the Lunar soil simulant was much lower than the Earth soil while that of Martian soil was comparable to the Earth soil.

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