An interesting new study found that astronomers could have a chance of surviving on Mars. The researchers discovered that potatoes might be able to grow on the surface of the Red Planet.
Last years, the researchers at NASA planted potatoes in a soil patch on Earth that has the conditions most similar to those on Mars. This is situated in the Pampas de La Joya desert in Peru. This experiment was sponsored by the International Potato Center (CIP).
The potatoes were planted in a CubeSat specially built at Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology together with Ames Research Center at NASA. The researchers explained that, if potatoes could survive the extreme conditions they exposed them to in the CubeSat, they might be able to grow on Mars.
The International Potato Center in Lima, Peru, made public a video stream of the blooming potatoes in the CubeSat, thus spicing the hope that astronomers might one day be able to survive on Mars. Also, this discovery suggests that there might be solutions to combat famine.
In 2015, reports showed that 795 million people were undernourished all over the globe. The numbers have declined over the past few years, but this does not mean that the threat is gone. On the contrary, the future is not that bright as climate change might affect crops and harvests.
If a severe famine is to come, potatoes are the best solution that can help people avert the crisis. They are already the most popular food crop, they are nutritious, versatile and, as the new study suggests, can adapt to harsh conditions and guarantee a better food security.
Currently, the International Potato Center are documenting 4,000 varieties of edible potato that can grow in any conditions, starting with the windy fields of Idaho, reaching the salt-abundant coasts in Bangladesh and, recently, the facility that imitates the climate on Mars.
When the experiment first started, the researchers were not so sure what the outcome might be. They suggested that they could grow potatoes without soil, by only using hydroponics and aeroponics. But the new study that showed potatoes growing in a soil with Mars-simulated conditions, the outcome might turn out positive.
Also, these techniques will probably be used by subsistence farmers around the globe to grow potatoes in harsh conditions.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons