The Martian storyline is possible in some ways, as NASA has confirmed astronauts can farm crops on Mars. At the moment, they grow salad crops that recycle the water. Even better news is that the food is edible.
In the new Matt Damon movie, The Martian, an astronaut is stranded on Mars for the next four years. He has to work out how to grow food so he does not starve to death. Many are fascinated with the idea of living on the Red Planet, and now it seems that it could be possible in some ways. Mars soil is compatible for growing plants.
According to Bruce Bugabee, Utah State University director of plants, soil and climate, the process of growing happens in a similar way to the movie—and the book that it was adapted from. This process has been going on for the last 10 years, and there are currently six astronauts on the International Space Station growing and eating the crops.
The slight deviation between fiction and truth is the time period. The crops were first harvested in August this year. Bugabee also confirms that Mars soil has too many iron oxides, so growing as much as Damon’s character manages would not be possible. Recycled water and hydroponics are used in real life, rather than Mars soil and feces used in the movie.
A major issue is lighting, because there is not enough of it on Mars. The astronauts currently use mirrors with lenses. They concentrate the sunlight and use fiber optics to bring it inside the station to help with the growing.
Scientists have also tried growing crops on the moon. It turns out that this is much harder than growing on Mars. Another research study has shown that over a 50 day period a number of plants were able to survive growth with Martian-like soil, with some forming seeds.
Image: lareveuse / Pixabay
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