Wednesday August 21, 2019
Home Uncategorized Scientists to...

Scientists to grow potatoes on Earth under Mars conditions

0
//

Washington:  To save millions of lives on Earth, a team of world-class scientists is ready to grow potatoes in the most inhospitable environments under the tough Martian conditions.

The experiment, led by the International Potato Centre (CIP) in Peru and NASA, is a major step towards building a controlled dome on Mars capable of farming the invaluable crop.

“I am excited to put potatoes on Mars and even more so that we can use a simulated Martian terrain so close to the area where potatoes originated,” said Julio E Valdivia-Silva, research associate of NASA who is leading the project’s science team.

By using soils almost identical to those found on Mars, sourced from the Pampas de La Joya Desert in Peru, the teams will replicate Martian atmospheric conditions in a laboratory and grow potatoes.

The increased levels of carbon dioxide will benefit the crop, whose yield is two to four times that of a regular grain crop under normal Earth conditions.

The Martian atmosphere is near 95 percent carbon dioxide.

“The extraordinary efforts of the team have set the bar for extraterrestrial farming. The idea of growing food for human colonies in space could be a reality very soon,” added Chris McKay, planetary scientist of the NASA Ames research centre.

Beyond the ability to thrive in challenging conditions, potatoes are also highly nutritious.

An excellent source of vitamin C, iron and zinc, they contain critical micro-nutrients missing in vulnerable communities globally.

“How better to learn about climate change than by growing crops on a planet that died two billion years ago?” noted Joel Ranck, CIP head of communications.

“We need people to understand that if we can grow potatoes in extreme conditions like those on Mars, we can save lives on Earth,” he added.

Currently, famine affects 842 million people around the world.

Global warming creates poor soil conditions and increases the number of pests and disease which have the combined effect of limiting harvests globally but particularly in vulnerable areas where poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity already exist.

Understanding atmospheric changes on the surface of Mars will help build more dynamic and accurate simulation centres on the Earth.

The goal is to raise awareness of the incredible illness due to potatoes and fund further research and farming in devastated areas across the globe where malnutrition and poverty are common, the authors concluded. (IANS) (image courtesy:i.imgur.com)

Next Story

Building City on Mars Could Cost up to $10 Trillion: Elon Musk

SpaceX is building “Starship” (formerly known as the BFR), a fully reusable vehicle designed to take humans and supplies to Mars

0
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. Wikimedia Commons

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has not stopped at lofty talks of colonising Mars. He has even estimated the cost of having a self-sustaining civilization on the Red Planet which is “between $100 billion and $10 trillion”.

Musk tweeted his estimates of building a city on Mars in response to a question posed by the Twitter handle @marstronauts.

So according to the estimate by Musk, building a city on Mars could cost anywhere between 10 per cent of the US’ 2019 military budget and three times the the country’s 2018 tax revenue, Futurism.com reported on Tuesday.

Musk calculated the approximate future cost of sending a minimum payload to Mars “to nearest order of magnitude”, at $100,000 per tonne.

Musk, Neuralink, Brain
Not many people know that Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk owns a startup called Neuralink that is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces. Pixabay

So if building a self-sustaining city on Mars requires a million tonnes of cargo, the cost would be around $100 billion, he calculated.

Musk earlier advocated the need of a “backup” planet.

Also Read: OnePlus to Launch Smart TV Named ”OnePlus TV”

Speaking in an interview with Axios in November 2018, Musk said that that there is “70 per cent chance that he will go to Mars”, despite a “good chance” of him not surviving either on the way or after landing.

SpaceX is building “Starship” (formerly known as the BFR), a fully reusable vehicle designed to take humans and supplies to Mars. (IANS)