Martian Farming: Potatoes May Grow on Mars, NASA Scientist Reveals
Humans moving to Mars in the future will not go hungry as a new study by a NASA scientist reveals that the red planet may be conducive for growing potatoes.
The study was conducted by NASA scientist Chris McKay and was sponsored by the International Potato Center. McKay's study dabbled on the possibility of growing potatoes on Mars by studying the soil from the Pampas de La Joya desert. The experiment was conducted in a CubeSat courtesy of the University of Engineering and Technology in Peru.
According to the study, the Peruvian desert's soil has similar properties to the soil on the Red Planet. McKay posits that if potatoes can grow in the Pampas de La Joya environment, then it can grow on Martian soil too.
CS Monitor notes that the recent experiment will not only benefit future Mars explorations but also our technological and biological future. Growing potatoes in arid, extreme environments can solve the lack of food astronauts experience when in space.
The International Potato Center detailed over 4,000 potato varieties that can be suitable candidates to be grown on Mars. Phys Org said McKay's study reveals that it may even be possible to grow potatoes by hydroponics and aeroponics. These technologies will allow nutrients to be delivered by water and air directly to plants without the need for soil.
The new discovery can also be a way to solve hunger on Earth. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has reported climate change as a major threat to progress in various fields, but especially to food safety. More than 795 million people are estimated to be undernourished worldwide.
The potential of potatoes growing in harsh and warm climates is a good indication that the crop may, in fact, be a solution not only to Martian hunger plights but that of Earth as well.