SEOUL, Feb.19 (Korea Bizwire) – Might it be possible to grow potatoes on Mars like in the movie ‘The Martian’?
According to AFP, NASA will conduct an experiment in Peru next month to examine the feasibility of growing potatoes on Mars. The experiment will be conducted in partnership with the Peruvian non-profit research organization CIP (Centro International de la Papa).
NASA and CIP will conduct the experiment by cultivating 100 different varieties of potatoes that were deemed to be potential survivors of the extreme environment, which is similar to Mars. The potato candidates were selected from the 4,500 varieties registered at the CIP.
Among the 100 varieties selected, 40 are from the Andes mountains, and can be cultivated in rocky and dry areas, while 60 are genetically engineered to have special features such as high tolerance to viruses or survival abilities in arid environments or salty areas.
The researchers will bring 100 kilograms of potatoes to the CIP lab, and conduct the experiment in an environment similar to Mars, which has dioxides in the air and is exposed to extreme ultraviolet radiation.
The goal of the experiment is to find a potato variety that grows well in the harsh environment, but can also be mass produced.
The research team is confident that they will find a variety that can survive, and plan to report detailed results within one or two years. If the selected varieties do not make it, they will add nutrients to the potatoes or expose them to radiation.
If these measures also fail, the research team says that the CIP will use a technology called aeroponics in which plants are cultivated without soil and spread their roots into artificial cubes.
Scientists also hope that the experiment will be a large step towards solving the problems of famine and malnutrition on earth.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)