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

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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)

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Mission Mars: Red Planet Mars possess ‘Ideal Conditions’ to create Oxygen from Natural Carbon Dioxide, says Study

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Mars
A study has found Mars to attain near ideal conditions for dynamically creating oxygen. Pixabay.

London, Oct 23: A study has found Mars to attain near ideal conditions for dynamically creating oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide with the use of plasma technology.

As stated by researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal and Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, Mars is already comprised of 96 per cent CO2 (carbon dioxide) in its atmosphere.

The PTI reported the research published in the journal Plasma Sources Science and Technology depicting the pressure and temperature ranges in the Martian atmosphere that sustains non-thermal plasma useful for effective production of oxygen.

Vaso Guerra, a researcher from the University of Lisbon in Portugal put forth his statement about their next significant steps of sending a manned mission to Mars for exploration of space. They are planning to create a substantial change by creating a breathable environment on Mars.

Healthy
Mars has a low atmospheric temperature enhancing the production of CO2. Wikimedia.

Plasma reforming of CO2 on Earth is an advancing research study, stimulated by the problems of change in climate and production of solar fuels. Plasmas at low temperature are one of the best media for CO2 deformation, where the molecule splits into oxygen and carbon monoxide combined with direct electron impact, and transfer of electron into vibrational energy.

Mars has superficial conditions for In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) through the plasma.

The cold atmosphere may stimulate high vibrational effect for producing oxygen than that achievable on Earth. The low atmospheric temperature on Mars will also enable the reaction to be slowly giving the maximum amount of time for separation of molecules.

The plasma technology decomposition method aims to offer a two output for a manned mission towards Mars. The technique would provide a stable supply of oxygen and as a source of fuel that can be used as a propellant mixture in rocket vehicles. This approach by ISRU could help in simplifying the logistics involved in space exploration by increasing self-sufficiency, decrease the risks to the crew, and reduction in expenditure for carrying out the mission.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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NASA’S Mars Odyssey Spacecraft Captures First Images of the Martian Moon Phobos after 16 years

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres

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Phobos
On September 29, Phobos was observed by Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, which has been launched in 2001. Pixabay

Washington, October 8, 2017 : After orbiting the Red Planet for 16 years, NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has captured its first images of the Martian moon Phobos.

The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, launched in 2001, observed Phobos on September 29.

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres.

Cameras on other Mars orbiters have previously taken higher-resolution images of Phobos, but none with the infrared information available from THEMIS.

Observations in multiple bands of thermal-infrared wavelengths can yield information about the mineral composition of the surface, as well as the surface texture, NASA said in a statement this week.

“Although THEMIS has been at Mars for 16 years, this was the first time we have been able to turn the spacecraft around to look at Phobos,” said THEMIS Mission Planner Jonathon Hill of Arizona State University.

The researchers combined visible-wavelength and infrared data to produce an image color-coded for surface temperatures of this moon, which has been considered for a potential future human-mission outpost, NASA said.

“This half-moon view of Phobos was chosen because it allowed us to observe a wide range of temperatures on the surface,” Hill added.

ALSO READ NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

One major question about Phobos and Mars’ even smaller moon, Deimos, is whether they are captured asteroids or bits of Mars knocked into the sky by impact.

The researchers believe that compositional information from THEMIS might help pin down their origin.

Since Odyssey began orbiting the Red Planet in 2001, THEMIS has provided compositional and thermal properties information from all over Mars, but never before imaged either Martian moon.

The September 29 observation was completed to validate that the spacecraft could safely do so, as the start of a possible series of observations of Phobos and Deimos in coming months.

“There is heightened interest in Phobos because of the possibility that future astronauts could perhaps use it as an outpost,” said Odyssey Project Scientist Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (IANS)

 

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New Evidence Asserts Mars Environment Over Billions of Years Ago Was Able to Support Liquid Water

River deposits exist across Mars and a region of Mars named Aeolis Dorsa contains some of the most spectacular and densely packed river deposits seen on the Red Planet

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Mars
FILE - The base of Mars' Mount Sharp is pictured in this August 27, 2012 NASA handout photo taken by the Curiosity rover. VOA

New York, September 19, 2017 : The Mars environment over 3.5 billion years ago was able to support liquid water at the surface, says a study.

River deposits exist across the surface of Mars and a region of Mars named Aeolis Dorsa contains some of the most spectacular and densely packed river deposits seen on the Red Planet, according to the study published in the Geological Society of America (GSA) Bulletin.

These deposits are observable with satellite images because they have undergone a process called “topographic inversion” where the deposits filling once topographically low river channels have been exhumed in such a way that they now exist as ridges at the surface of the planet, the researchers said.

ALSO READ NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

With the use of high-resolution images and topographic data from cameras on orbiting satellites, Benjamin T Cardenas and colleagues from Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, identified fluvial deposit stacking patterns and changes in sedimentation styles controlled by a migratory coastline.

They also developed a method to measure river paleo-transport direction for a subset of these ridges.

Together, these measurements demonstrated that the studied river deposits once filled incised valleys.

On Earth, incised valleys are commonly cut and filled during falling and rising eustatic sea level, respectively.

The researchers concluded that similar falling and rising water levels in a large water body forced the formation of the paleo-valleys in their study area.

“We present evidence that some of these fluvial deposits represent incised valleys carved and filled during falls and rises in base level, which were likely controlled by changes in water-surface elevation of a large lake or sea,” the study said.

They observed cross-cutting relationships at the valley-scale, indicating multiple episodes of water level fall and rise, each well over 50 metres, a similar scale to eustatic sea level changes on Earth. (IANS)