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Portuguese team gets to send first living organisms to Mars

Portuguese team Seed has won the Mars One competition and the right to send the first living organisms to Mars, the Mars One Dutch non-profit foundation said Tuesday.

The Seed team, mainly made up of young scientists from the northern Portuguese city of Porto, 300 km north of capital Lisbon, won the competition based on an online public vote that ended Dec 31, 2014, Xinhua reported citing the foundation. Seed was one of 35 teams in the running.

Seed’s proposed experiment, to germinate seeds, will be sent to Mars on the Mars One Lander mission in 2018 on a 10-month voyage. The experiment is intended to prove that it is possible to sustain life on Mars in a controlled environment.

US space agency NASA also has plans to send plants to the planet, but the Mars One voyage is expected to do so two years or more beforehand.

“It’s an excellent and a unique opportunity, as it will be the first time life has been taken to Mars, but also, because of that, the responsibility and concern is greater,” Daniel Carvalho, one of the scientists who designed the project, told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

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