Can we grow crops on Mars now??

2016-07-12 15:56

Martian Crops....A lot of excitement has been circling around the recent tests for growing biomass on Mars and in Lunar soil. The resultant being mans’ dreams of colonising another planet, by successfully growing crops, may be one step closer.

The University and research center of Wageningen in the Netherlands conducted these tests in their greenhouse, reporting that tomato, rye, radish, pea, leek, spinach, rocket, watercress, quinoa and chives fared surprisingly well in the Martian samples. The Moon soil samples delivered about half the biomass than the samples of the Martian soil as well.

Although this might be one step closer to growing crops in other types of soil, one has to see it for what it is worth.

The ‘Martian soil’ is in fact not from Mars at all. Neither is the ‘Lunar soil’. These tests were based on similar types of soil than its actual counterparts with the ‘Martian soil’ being simulated by soil obtained from a Hawaiian volcano and the ‘Lunar soil’ from the Arizona desert. This soil was mixed with fresh grass-cuttings and well watered before planting the crops.  As if there is grass available on Mars and the moon… hmmm…, to not even mention water…huh?

The tests were also conducted in a controlled environment under earths’ atmospheric pressure.  Obviously Mars and our Moon have drastically different atmospheric conditions than Earth.  To not even talk about the extreme temperatures and radiation experienced in those environments.

Another major concern to consider is: Even if one would be able to overcome all these ‘uncalculated’ restrictions, would you actually be able to eat those vegetables?  Mankind consistently complains about MSG and Genetically modified foods right here on Earth. Would you eat these alien vegetables?  Would they even be safe to consume?

It is highly doubtful, as the chemical composition of these soils contain heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury and other irons. You would most definitely not last very long on these alien veggies…

As mentioned above, one has to think about the water concept as well…  Although NASA has indicated they have identified running water on Mars, one has to understand why the ‘water’ is in liquid form.  The Northern Ice cap on Mars is an obvious sign of possible water, but under the extreme environment of the Martian planet, these liquids are filled with various other elements unbecoming of fresh water.  It can be more easily be described as briny water, filled with hydrated minerals called perchlorates. These salts are what prevents shallow areas of liquid from freezing over in Mars’ average of minus 100°C temperatures.  Scientists are guessing that this briny water might contain magnesium perchlorates, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorates. A long shot from what we know as fresh water…sigh.

This brings us to the conclusion as to why they are actually spending billions of dollars on trying to establish whether man could live and survive on other planets.  Why not use the money to help better mankind, help struggling economies, hell… why not plant grass, tomatoes, rye, radish, pea, leek, spinach, rocket, watercress, quinoa and chives in all our deserts on Earth?  Create more space for humanity to live and grow crops?  At least we know it might work and won’t cost as much as these multi-billion dollar space missions!

I for one, would love to visit another planet for the experience, but colonising barren planets or moons?  That is an absurd idea!  One mistake and everyone would die... If your crops fail on another planet, who would bring you more food?  Help would be months, if not years away.

Who in their right mind would want to live there?  Well you would be surprised.

Over 200 000 people applied in 2013 to be part of the first colony to Mars in 2020. These 'Mars One' applicants came from 140 countries across the globe. In order to qualify for the first team of Astronauts selected, you would have to show resilience, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust and be creative and resourceful. They forgot one more….crazy!

How they plan on managing this feat I don’t know, as we have no clue what to expect and how to be resourceful and self-sufficient outside our own atmosphere as yet.

Salty water, extreme temperature, radiation, heavy metal poisoning and a bunch of crazy people all living in tents on Mars?  Sounds like fun...

What do you think?

(The views in this article are not necessarily the views of the writer)

Follow me on twitter: Neil Holtshausen@HoltshausenNeil

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