Scientists are hoping to turn Mars green one day according to a new study in Icarus. The journal details Basically NASA is helping scientists learn how they might be able to start up food production or more on the red planet. In-Situ Resource Utilization, basically replacing objects commonly found on Earth, for use in both establishing a community there or farming for people back on our planet. But, tossing a bunch of Miracle-Gro in a space shuttle isn't very practical. Researchers are trying to estimate how hard it would be to have the soil on our neighboring planet grow organic life. It's a herculean task that would dramatically alter Mars if it proved successful. But, for the moment, actually terraforming the planet is the stuff of science fiction. But, one day, it could really be possible if multiple societies put their minds to the task. Regolith, Mars soil, contains elements like calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium. But, the rocks on the surface are so oxidized, along with concerns about the atmospheric conditions that there is a long way to go. For now, keep your eyes to the sky.
"Soil on Mars is known to contain the majority of planet essential nutrients, but many questions of both the benefits (e.g. bioavailability of present nutrients) and limitations (e.g. extent of toxins) of Martian soil as a plant growth medium remain unanswered," researchers said in the Icarus article.
Andrew Palmer, an ocean engineering and marine sciences associate professor told Florida Tech News, "These findings underscore that ISRU food solutions are likely at a lower technological readiness level than previously thought. Our strategy was, rather than saying this simulant grows plants so that means we can grow plants everywhere on Mars, we need to say that Mars is a diverse planet,"
"Simulating the mineral makeup or salt content of these Martian mixtures can tell us a lot about the potential fertility of the soil. Things like nutrients, salinity, pH are part of what make a soil fertile and understanding where Mars' soils are at in that spectrum is key to knowing if they are viable and if not, are there feasible solutions that can be used to make them viable," Laura Fackrell, UGA geology doctoral candidate told The Next Web.
Do you think we will see Mars growing food within our lifetimes? Or is that just a little bit too far-fetched? Let us know down in the comments!