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Science & Technology

Earthworms can reproduce in Martian soil

By T.K. Randall
November 28, 2017 · Comment icon 28 comments

It should be possible to grow potatoes and other vegetables on Mars. Image Credit: NASA
The results of a recent experiment suggest that the soil on Mars is likely to be suitable for agriculture.
Scientists in the Netherlands using a Mars soil simulant obtained from NASA have discovered that earthworms are not only able to live in it, but can even reproduce.

The findings indicate that future settlers on Mars should be able to grow their own crops.

"The best surprise came at the end of the experiment when we found two young worms in the Mars soil simulant," said Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen University and Research.
"The positive effect of adding manure was not unexpected, but we were surprised that it makes Mars soil simulant outperform Earth silver sand."

The researchers have also succeeded in growing edible crops in the makeshift Mars soil as well.

"The only species that has resisted our efforts so far is spinach," the team wrote.

Source: | Comments (28)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #19 Posted by XenoFish 6 years ago
Now that I think about it. This is really awesome. I mean using a combination of martian soil, human waste (processed) and worms to further mix the soil. This could potential solve quite a few mars mission issues. Plus if it came down to it the worms could be a protein source. 
Comment icon #20 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Either you wanted Dune too many times or the old B&W Outer Limits. Outer Limits probably stole the idea from Dune.   Oh and I guess we won't have to worry about seeing Popeye on Mars.  The import price of spinach would be astronomical.
Comment icon #21 Posted by XenoFish 6 years ago
I've read to books enough times that the pages were falling out of them. Plus it was a joke based on the topic.
Comment icon #22 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
I realized that.  I'm more than slightly crazy
Comment icon #23 Posted by mackbolin 6 years ago
great....we spend millions of $$$$$$$$$$ to see if worms can screw on mars...yay.
Comment icon #24 Posted by ShadowSot 6 years ago
Hardly millions, maybe a thousand if they really pushed the envelope. Its important for any future colonizing attempts. Worms are part of soil renewal for farming. 
Comment icon #25 Posted by toast 6 years ago
Great, another one who didnt read the article/understood the project but feel forced to comment...yay.
Comment icon #26 Posted by tmcom 6 years ago
Mars Curiosity costed a billion to get there, and then it mapped out a path from its origin to another place, avoiding anything dangerous, etc inbetween.
Comment icon #27 Posted by ShadowSot 6 years ago
It's done a lot more than just that, looking at its soil sampling data for example.   And I was replying to a post about this worm study.   And with a lot of the technology developed for this project that goes to the private sector it'll give returns on those investment, which is why NASA is one of the few government programs that turn a profit and increase cash flow. Those billion so odd dollars didn't em get sent to Mars, it was spent hiring and paying people to do a job. Those people being generally the sort who spend the money in their local towns or cities.   You get the cash flow t... [More]
Comment icon #28 Posted by ChaosRose 6 years ago
they've now produced their first offspring. And they look like this...

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