(ORDO NEWS) — The colonization of planets requires the constant provision of food to the settlers, because supplies from Earth will be extremely expensive and risky – the rocket can crash and leave the colonists starving. Therefore, scientists are looking for another way out.
Growing food directly on Mars will not only reduce the cost of food, but also ensure the autonomy of the existence of future cities. However, here scientists face a big problem.
First plant on Mars
The surface of the planet is mostly basaltic in composition as a result of past volcanism. The soil of the Martian regolith is mostly weathered basalt containing salts such as sulfates and perchlorates.
Analyzes have shown that although it contains the basic elements necessary for life, the main limiting factors are low bioavailability of nutrients and poor water retention due to the lack of organic carbon.
In addition, mankind has not yet found liquid water on Mars – all its remnants are concentrated in the permafrost of the polar ice sheets.
Growing crops is the priority, scientists say, but the Red Planet’s strict conditions and the lack of water and essential minerals in the soil reduce the chances of success.
The researchers propose a new approach, widely used on Earth. It consists in the preliminary preparation of the soil and the improvement of its fertility by sowing crops that can independently saturate it with the necessary substances.
An optimal first plant for Mars could be alfalfa , which can grow just as well under its extreme conditions as it does on Earth.
- Using it for soil preparation will provide better growth opportunities for low-maintenance plants like lettuce, radish and turnip
- Tests carried out, during which the composition of volcanic soil was simulated in the laboratory, proved the viability of this method
- A technology is also being developed to desalinate the salty water available on Mars using marine bacteria
- Such an integrated approach can become the basis for creating the living conditions of the first colonists who will go to conquer new worlds
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