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Team of Students Plans to Grow Lettuce on Red Planet

A team of British students emerges with a vision of growing lettuce in Mars, the red planet. The seven students from the University of Southampton Spaceflight Society plan to market it as #LettuceOnMars.

The team of students have designed a greenhouse that could travel with the Mars One lander in 2018 and grow lettuce on the planet’s surface. Lettuce has been chosen to grow in Mars because “it’s edible, space-efficient, has durable seeds and is already cultivated in space,” says the team in their website.

If the plans are approved, lettuce could be sent to the Red Planet as early as 2018, as part of the Mars One mission to establish a human settlement there in 2025. Earlier, NASA’s “VEGGIE” program has successfully grown lettuce on the ISS using pink LED lamps.

However, it is one of the 10 short-listed university projects to be selected for potential inclusion in the payload for the Mars One landing in 2018. Meanwhile, the other groups include a plan to send cyanobacteria with the lander and to germinate seeds on Mars.

Amid, under the project #LettuceOnMars, the greenhouse would be launched from the Earth with lettuce seeds, water, nutrients, and systems for atmospheric processing and electronic monitoring. Project Head Suzanna Lucarotti, said, “To live on other planets, we need to grow food there. No one has ever actually done this and we intend to be the first.”

She added that growing plants on other planets is something that needs to be done, and “will lead to a wealth of research and industrial opportunities that our plan aims to bring to the University of Southampton.”

Following a safe landing, the Mars One lander will supply power and heating elements to maintain a temperature between 21°C and 24°C. Carbon dioxide, which is essential for plant life, would be extracted from the Martian atmosphere and processed before entering the growth chamber.

The lettuce would then be grown without soil and would be regularly sprayed with water and nutrients and once the environment had reached suitable conditions, the plant would start growing.

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