Tuesday February 19, 2019
Home Science & Technology Scientists in...

Scientists in Peru Grow small Potato Plant in Mars Simulator influenced by Hollywood movie ” The Martian”

0
//
Live-streaming cameras caught every tiny movement as a potato bud sprouted and grew several leaves while sensors provided around-the-clock monitoring of simulator conditions in Lima, Peru, March 16, 2017, VOA

Lima, April 1, 2017: Could potatoes one day support human life on Mars?

Scientists in Peru have used a simulator that mimics the harsh conditions on the Red Planet to successfully grow a small potato plant.

It’s an experiment straight out of the 2015 Hollywood movie ” The Martian” that scientists say may also benefit arid regions already feeling the impact of climate change.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

“It’s not only about bringing potatoes to Mars, but also finding a potato that can resist noncultivable areas on Earth,” said Julio Valdivia, an astrobiologist with Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology who is working with NASA on the project.

The experiment began in 2016 — a year after the Hollywood film “The Martian” showed a stranded astronaut surviving by figuring out how to grow potatoes on the red planet.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

Mars simulator

Peruvian scientists built a simulator akin to a Mars-in-a-box: below-zero temperatures, high carbon monoxide concentrations, the air pressure found at 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) altitude, and a system of lights imitating the Martian day and night.

Though thousands of miles away from colleagues at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California providing designs and advice, Peru was in many ways an apt location to experiment with growing potatoes on Mars.

The birthplace of the domesticated potato lies high in the Andes near Lake Titicaca, where it was first grown about 7,000 years ago. More than 4,000 varieties are grown in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, where potatoes have sprouted even in cold, barren lands.

The Peruvian scientists didn’t have to go far to find high-salinity soil similar to that found on Mars, though with some of the organic material Mars lacks: Pampas de la Joya along the country’s southern coast receives less than a millimeter of rain a year, making its terrain somewhat comparable to the Red Planet’s parched ground.

International Potato Center researchers transported 700 kilos (1,540 pounds) of the soil to Lima, planted 65 varieties and waited. In the end, just four sprouted from the soil.

In a second stage, scientists planted one of the most robust varieties in the even more extreme conditions of the simulator, with the soil — Mars has no organic soil — replaced by crushed rock and a nutrient solution.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

Bud sprouts

Live-streaming cameras caught every tiny movement as a bud sprouted and grew several leaves while sensors provided around-the-clock monitoring of simulator conditions.

The winning potato: a variety called “Unique.”

“It’s a ‘super potato’ that resists very high carbon dioxide conditions and temperatures that get to freezing,” Valdivia said.

NASA itself also has been doing experiments on extraterrestrial agriculture, both for use on spacecraft and perhaps on Mars.

Ray Wheeler, the lead for advanced life support research at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, said plant survival in the open on Mars would be impossible, given the planet’s low pressure, cold temperature and lack of oxygen, but showing plants could survive in a greenhouse-type environment with reduced pressure and high carbon dioxide levels could potentially reduce operating costs. Most research on growing plants in space has focused on optimizing environments to get high outputs of oxygen and food.

“But understanding the lower limits of survival is also important, especially if you consider predeploying some sort of plant growth systems before humans arrive,” he said.

In the next stage of the experiment, scientists will build three more simulators to grow potato plants under extreme conditions with the hope of gaining a broader range of results. They will also need to increase the carbon dioxide concentrations to more closely imitate the Martian atmosphere. (VOA)

Next Story

Anticipated Problems That May Effect NASA’s Mars Mission

According to results from the first eight analog space crews, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the astronauts are able to successfully complete tasks between 20 and 60 per cent of the time.

0
NASA has formalised plans to send a manned mission to Mars, a journey that could involve 250 million miles of travel on a small spacecraft.  Pixabay

Researchers are developing a predictive model to help NASA anticipate conflicts and communication breakdowns among crew members and tick off problems that may make or break the Mission to Mars.

NASA has formalised plans to send a manned mission to Mars, a journey that could involve 250 million miles of travel on a small spacecraft.

To understand the psychological demands of this Mars journey, Northwestern University has charted a multi-phase study conducted in two analog environments — HERA in the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the SIRIUS Mission in the NEK analog located in the Institute for Bio-Medical Problems (IBMP) in Russia.

The varsity will study the behaviour of analog astronaut crews on mock missions, complete with isolation, sleep deprivation, specially designed tasks and mission control, which mimics real space travel with delayed communication.

Mars
NASA has formalised plans to send a manned mission to Mars, a journey that could involve 250 million miles of travel on a small spacecraft. 
Pixabay

“Astronauts are super humans. They are people who are incredibly physically fit and extremely smart,” said Leslie DeChurch, Professor at Northwestern.

“We’re taking an already state-of-the-art crew selection system and making it even better by finding the values, traits and other characteristics that will allow NASA to compose crews that will get along,” DeChurch added.

HERA’s capsule simulator houses astronauts for up to 45 days — a mock mission control outside the capsule — that augments the realism with sound effects, vibrations and communication delays.

space
According to results from the first eight analog space crews, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the astronauts are able to successfully complete tasks between 20 and 60 per cent of the time. Pixabay

Those on the inside undergo sleep deprivation and try to perform tasks. The researchers collect moment-to-moment metrics about individual performance, moods, psychosocial adaptation and more.

According to results from the first eight analog space crews, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the astronauts are able to successfully complete tasks between 20 and 60 per cent of the time.

Also Read: Iran Doubts Europe’s Efforts To Keep Nuclear Deal Alive

The next phase of the research, which began on February 15, involves using the model to predict breakdowns and problems a new HERA crew will experience and making changes to “who works with whom, on what, and when”.

The experiment on the SIRIUS analog in Moscow, will begin on March 15, where four Russians and two Americans, will undertake a 120-day fictional mission around the moon, including a moon landing operation. (IANS)