When reality surpasses fiction: Researchers have managed to grow potatoes in an environment similar to that of Mars like Matt Damon in the film Alone on Mars.
In the American blockbuster, Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) fertilizes the Martian soil with his own excrement and that of the other crew members to grow potatoes. Ah, you hadn’t seen the film? Too late. We know that NASA has been eyeing a crewed mission to the Red Planet for decades and Congress has even passed legislation that implores the space agency to reach the Red Planet by 2033. She is therefore studying all the ideas that can support the establishment of a Martian colony and potatoes are one of them.
Why the potato? Because it is the vegetable that provides the most calories per m2, but NASA did not go to Mars to plant potatoes, they recreated the Martian environment in the laboratory, that is to say with the same conditions of sunshine, pressure, the same air composition and the same dry and sandy soil as on Mars. And guess what, it grows! They even installed a camera to follow the shoots live which, as you will be able to see, came out of the ground well.
The researchers recreated the Martian environment on Earth to grow potatoes, but they didn’t need human manure like in the movie because they selected potato species that could grow in the worst conditions. And for this, they called on researchers from the International Potato Center in Chile.
Growing food on Mars is one of NASA’s priorities, since it would avoid carrying tons of food on future missions. According to the researchers, the next step will be to send a drone on site to plant before sending astronauts.