TODAY WE ARE GOING TO GERMINATE SEEDS TO … MARS!
Today we wanted to give a curious little news. After our article Lunar Plant Growth Habitat, in which we told you about the idea of generating protected habitats for the cultivation of plants outside land borders, the proposal is directed by a group of researchers from Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.
We usually talk about many crops, plants for the garden, orchard, their growing conditions, their habitat, irrigation conditions and substrate but … always thinking about the land! A joint research team between Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, has won for the Mars-One project, a contest with their Seed project , in which they intend to send seeds to Mars to carry out the first germination on an extraterrestrial planet.
AND WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS TODAY?
Simply because we found it curious, and because out of 35 very interesting and technologically advanced projects, this team from the seed project have won the award, simply with an objective that is “apparently so simple” (it has nothing to do with simple) as it is , germinate the first seed on Mars . As they themselves say:
“We want to germinate the first seed on Mars to demonstrate the concept that it is possible to grow plants on Mars, in addition to the social impact that the fact that the first terrestrial life form has been able to develop on that planet will have.”
AMONG ALL THE KNOWN PLANTS, WHICH ONE HAS BEEN CHOSEN?
For all of us it would be a headache to think what seed we can take to Mars from among the hundreds of thousands of species that populate our planet. Several options are being considered, including arugula !, But we believe that in the end they will opt for Arabidopsis thaliana .
AND WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT THIS PLANT?
From the point of view of agricultural interest for consumption, none. From a research point of view, Arabidopsis thaliana is the most studied because it is the one whose entire genetic sequence is known. This plant has been and continues to be the benchmark in studies on plants and genetics. Therefore, we believe that they will finally opt for it. Carrying out simulations and models with the amount of information collected about this plant would greatly facilitate its study on the red planet.
HOW IS IT GOING TO BE DONE?
It is evident that the atmospheric conditions of Mars will not allow the germination of any seed in the open. The seed will be protected so that it can germinate correctly. For this, the capsule will have a multilayer protection that will protect the plant from outside conditions. This layer will protect a cassette system similar to that of NASA on the International Space Station. These cassettes have a suitable culture medium for the plant and provide an appropriate thermal regulation for its development. There will be a monitoring of growth through photographs that will be sent to Earth for observation and study.
Seed cassettes used in space research
Many of us would ask ourselves: If the seed is protected from external conditions, and with its thermal regulation and its substrate, what is really the interest of taking it? Does it make any sense? It doesn’t take a thousand-dollar project to find out that it is impossible to germinate a plant in the atmosphere and conditions of Mars. But this study may make sense. Mainly, the gravity of Mars is different (~ 2.6 times less than that of the earth), the atmospheric pressure and solar radiation also , constituting great study variables to compare the growth between Earth and Mars.
But the real reason for this contest was to improve the stay of the human colony that is supposed to be established on Mars in about 10 or 20 years. Because that is the true proposal of the Mars-One Project.
It seems to us that among the 35 projects to make the future human stay on Mars more “pleasant”, that of having plants, is the one that has emerged as the first option.
AND THE THING IS … WITHOUT PLANTS WE ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE, NOT EVEN TO MARS.
Greetings to the Gardenprue community.