What are the prospects of growing plants and edible greenery on Mars, where the hero of Hollywood film “The Martian” grows potato for survival? As NASA inputs into making the film were known, the example shown in the film is very much on the cards and it is only in the next mission that a ‘Farm Lab’, first of its kind will be sent to Mars in 2018.
Bruce Bugbee, director of the plants, soils and climate department at Utah State University, who has been involved in NASA project to to explore growing plants on the Red Planet, is almost certain to grow plants by the time the first manned mission reaches it.
After a successful experiment by ISS (International Space Station) crew recently, Bugbee explains that the rich red soil with iron oxides may prove difficult but he has developed an artificial hydroponics lab with recycled water and reflective mirrors for sunlight to grow plants.
Moreover, Mars atmosphere poses a big challenge to human survival, says Bugbee pointing at dust storms, lack of sun light and lack of oxygen. Crossing these obstacles and growing vegetation for human consumption on poor red soil is another challenge, he cites.
NASA is otherwise keen to send a ‘Farm Lab’ in 2020 that can grow plants on Mars so that by 2030 manned mission can reach and mkae a beginning to live on the Red Planet. Ultimately, colonizing the Mars is possible but not without serious challenges.
“Engineers and scientists around the country are working hard to develop the technologies astronauts will use to one day live and work on Mars, and safely return home from the next giant leap for humanity,” said NASA on its website.