That’s basically the project that came from the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima, Peru in collaboration with NASA’s Ames Research Center. And, although it seems a little bizarre, there is a reasoning behind this madness. Because potatoes have such a high-calorie count, they are an excellent source of food for astronauts in space. And, according to the results of the experiment headed by the International Potato Centre (CIP), it’s looking promising that we can, in fact, grow potatoes on Mars.
During the study, researchers placed a potato into a hermetically sealed CubeSat that was filled with soils from a Peruvian desert that are the most Mars-like soils we have on Earth. They then set to work replicate the conditions on Mars by mimicking its temperature, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels, and air pressure levels. And, voila, it worked, potatoes were grown!
It might not seem very exciting that researchers have grown a potato in soil that is supposed to resemble Mars’ soil, but if it is, in fact, a taste of what we can achieve up on Mars, then it’s monumental! Julia Valdivia-Silva is a researcher working on the project, and she said in a statement, “Growing crops under Mars-like conditions is an important phase of this experiment. If the crops can tolerate the extreme conditions that we are exposing then to in our CubeSat, they have a good chance to grow on Mars. We will do several rounds of experiments to find out which potato varieties do best.”
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