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Potatoes actually can grow outside on Mars

Posted on Thursday, 9 March, 2017 | Comment icon 24 comments

It should be possible to grow potatoes and other vegetables on Mars. Image Credit: NASA
A new research satellite has revealed that it is possible to grow tubers in the conditions found on Mars.
In the 2015 movie 'The Martian', Matt Damon finds himself stranded on the Red Planet and relies on growing potatoes in the Martain soil to help him stay alive. Whether surviving in this way would be possible in real life however has since become a topic of considerable debate among scientists.

Now though, a new study published by the International Potato Center has suggested that growing potatoes on Mars actually is possible providing they are supplied with the necessary nutrients.

To test this out, researchers launched a specially designed CubeSat containing everything that a potato plant needs to grow including soil, oxygen, water and of course, potato seeds.

"It was a pleasant surprise to see that potatoes we've bred to tolerate abiotic stress were able to produce tubers in this soil," said potato breeder Walter Amoros.

It's good news for Matt Damon, then, as well as an encouraging discovery that could mean that future astronauts visiting Mars will be able to grow their own food in the Martian soil.

"If the crops can tolerate the extreme conditions that we are exposing them to in our CubeSat, they have a good chance to grow on Mars," said SETI research associate Julio Valdivia-Silva.

"We will do several rounds of experiments to find out which potato varieties do best. We want to know what the minimum conditions are that a potato needs to survive."

Source: Tech Radar | Comments (24)

Tags: Mars, Potatoes

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #15 Posted by seeder on 9 March, 2017, 17:12
as i said earlier....we could send simpler plants which is how earth started..
Comment icon #16 Posted by Nzo on 9 March, 2017, 18:02
Why not just send a rover to plant a few seeds over on mars. Have the Rover contain enough water to keep them watered for a few weeks/months. Then we will know for sure.
Comment icon #17 Posted by goodgodno on 9 March, 2017, 18:04
I'm no Mars expert, but I'd imagine that any moisture in the Martian soil is just been held there by the soils specific rentention i.e unable to drain under gravity. This moisture won't be a sustainable source to grow a crop.I think along term water supply wouldstill be necessary which is going to represent a huge challenge for growing crops on Mars. I assume the researchers watered the potatoesanyway..
Comment icon #18 Posted by seeder on 9 March, 2017, 18:14
there is moisture there....I wasnt at home for nine months due to a hospital stay,,... when I came home.....an Aloe Vera plant had doubled in size. nobody watered it.... so how did it get so big?
Comment icon #19 Posted by taniwha on 9 March, 2017, 18:26
I think genetically modified to be more resistant. Therefore more complex. We don't have to terraform using simple plants if we already have the technology to improve past that. And we do.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Parsec on 9 March, 2017, 19:11
Fried potatoes?
Comment icon #21 Posted by Sundew on 9 March, 2017, 19:51
IF there is no current life on Mars and it is a truly dead world, then start terraforming it with the toughest, hardiest lichens and bacteria, assuming they can stand the solar radiation. Higher plants will likely not be growing outside of a shelter for a long time, given the freezing temperatures.
Comment icon #22 Posted by paperdyer on 10 March, 2017, 13:20
Remember the key phase in the article is "if give the proper nutrients" Potatoes like sandy soil. Potatoes would grow in sand wit the proper fertilizer. I don't know how much oxygen potatoes need. Trying to grow cotton would be impressive as the product you want grows above the ground not beneath it like potatoes do.
Comment icon #23 Posted by oldrover on 10 March, 2017, 15:32
You mean like Newport?
Comment icon #24 Posted by Gingitsune on 12 March, 2017, 7:54
I wouldn't have thought potatoes would have enough oxygen to live, let alone grow, on Mars. That would help a potential martian colony a lot, since they don't need to shelter the fields. It will leave more room for humans.

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