Humans cannot survive without food. So as we make plans to send humans to Mars before the end of this decade, we must figure out how to grow food on Mars before commencing on this journey. What measures will be deployed in growing foods on Mars?
What technologies will be required for planting on Mars? Which Space Agencies are hoping to put astronauts on Mars anytime soon? The answers to these questions and more are well explained in this blog post.
Is it Possible to Grow Food on Mars?
Mars is referred to as a hostile planet for a reason. The planet does not have a suitable environment and atmosphere to sustain life and enable plants to germinate. Because of its tiny atmosphere, water exists on Mars in a frozen state beneath the martian surface. In fact, any liquid on the Mars surface will be dried up immediately because of Mars’ tiny atmosphere.
The data collected by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), reveals that the dust storm that rises from the Martian surface sucked away water that once existed on the planet’s surface millions of years ago. From this collected data, scientists suggest that water molecules were swept up into the martian atmosphere. For plants to germinate appropriately and reproduce, they need water.
In fact, scientists revealed that plant tissues are made up of 95% of water. So water is an essential nutrient for growing foods. But since Mars does not allow water to exist in liquid form on its surface, we may find it difficult to grow food on the red planet. Aside from water, plants also need an earth-like ecosystem to survive. Since there are no ecosystems to exploit and produce fresh foods on Mars, scientists have to come up with a realistic solution to grow food on Mars.
Keep in mind that plants need water, energy from the sun, oxygen, and glucose to survive. So growing food on Mars comes with numerous challenges. Several studies have led scientists to conclude that we may likely grow food on Mars in the future. However, we have to make a friendly environment for these crops to germinate and reproduce.
Scientists revealed that carrots, sweet potatoes, carrots, dandelions, onions, and lettuce have the potential of growing on the Martian surface under certain conditions. We still need to conduct more studies to learn about the possibilities of growing abundant food on Mars.
How First Martian Astronauts will Farm on Mars
Before the first Martian astronauts will land on Mars, we must have discovered how to grow food on Mars. Growing foods on Mars is quite challenging as the Martian soil is not suitable for plants.
Even though the first Martian astronauts will travel to Mars with enough food supplies for the duration of their mission, they still have to discover how to grow food on Mars.
So, they will go the extra mile to colonize Mars by growing food on its surface. So how will the first martian astronauts grow food on Mars? These astronauts will deploy the following solutions in growing food on the Martian surface.
1. Treating Mars Fine Regolith for Farming
Unlike Earth which has soil suitable for farming, Mars has fine regolith on its surface. The Martian regolith is completely unsuitable for farming. Since the regolith comes with perchlorates, which is a high concentration of toxic salts, no plants can surface on the Mars surface.
However, scientists have discovered various working solutions on how to get rid of these toxic salts from Mars’s fine regolith. One of the most working solutions is to wash the soil since they are soluble in water. Currently, scientists deploy some bacteria to eat perchlorates in perchlorate-laden water here on Earth.
Once the bacteria succeed in eating away the perchlorates and excrete chlorides from the water, the water will be free from high concentrations of toxic salts. If we must farm directly on Mars’s surface, we may likely deploy this method to prepare the Martian fine regolith for farming.
After removing toxic salt from the Martian soil, the right nutrients will be added to the soil to make them suitable for farming. Keep in mind that the soil must have the right pH for plants to grow on its surface. In addition to the right nutrients, the Martian soil needs to contain small organisms, such as bacteria that can fix nitrogen to increase the plants’ ability to produce fresh food.
So Once the Mars soil is prepared for farming, the astronauts have to protect the plants from the harsh Martian environment. Hence, they will build a dome over the Mars farm and give the planted food a suitable environment to thrive.
2. Using the Hydroponics method to farm
Hydroponics is a unique method of farming where plants are grown and nourished using high nutrient-based water. This implies that soil is not required for hydroponic methods of farming. The idea of using hydroponics to grow food began in the 10th century.
However, it was reinvented in 1937 by Gericke after he successfully grew tomato vines that are twenty-five feet tall using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. Over the years, scientists began to see the possibility of deploying hydroponics in growing food on Mars.
If astronauts must deploy this method of farming on Mars, they must participate in numerous training to prepare themselves on earth before embarking on the journeys to Mars. Using the hydroponics method on Mars implies that the martian astronauts will not see the need to use Mars’s fine regolith in growing foods on the red planet.
Instead, they will prepare nutrient-fortified water and use the concentration to grow food on the red planet.
3. Using Aeroponics farming method to grow food on Mars
Aeroponics is the method of growing plants using nutrients and water instead of soil. It has a similar application method to hydroponics. However, aeroponics practice is generally referred to as an advanced type of hydroponics.
This implies that its application to growing plants will fasten the growth process of plants, and result in greater yields. Since this innovative method produces quicker growth and healthier plants, the first martian astronauts may choose aeroponics over the hydroponics method of farming.
How Space Agencies are planning to Grow Food on Mars
Before we consider growing food on the red planet, we should consider the possibility of growing food in the hostile environment of Mars. Since space agencies realized that Mars is the only planet in the solar system with a suitable atmosphere and environment similar to earth, they have sent several rovers and orbiters to explore the planet.
The primary aim of these numerous space missions to Mars is to study Mars and learn about the environment. Currently, NASA, ESA, CNSA, ISRO, ROSMOSCOS, and MBRSC have succeeded in reaching Mars. These space agencies are carrying out several studies on mars to figure out how to grow food on Mars.
Their rovers and orbiters are returning a good amount of data about Mars’ atmosphere and its hostile environment. From these collected data, space agencies are already inventing technologies that will make it possible to grow food on Mars.
Almost every space agency hoping to send astronauts to Mars in the future is already researching various ways to grow food on Mars. The outcome of their research will determine the possibility of farming on mars in the future.
How SpaceX Astronauts will Grow Food on Mars
SpaceX is one of the commercial space agencies hoping to send humans to Mars before the end of the decade. The space agency is making a serious effort to send humans to Mars in their starships and sustain them. Just like government-owned space agencies, SpaceX will surely future out how to grow food on Mars before commencing on the journey.
Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 intending to send humans to Mars. 20 years afterward, SpaceX has grown to become one of the best commercial space agencies in the world. Kimbal Musk, who is Elon’s younger brother, started a company that will play a vital role in how the first Martian astronauts will grow food on Mars. Kimbal Company grows food using hydroponics technologies.
Space agencies are hoping to use similar technologies to grow food on the red planet in the future. The company’s founder Elon Musk once revealed in a tweet that the first martian astronauts will land on Mars by 2029. If he must attain this milestone, SpaceX Martian Astronauts may use Kimbal Musk’s hydroponics technology to grow food on the red planet.
No matter the method of farming the first martian astronauts deployed in growing food on Mars may likely experience a unique challenge in implementing the process. However, their resistance approach to colonizing the planet will make them succeed in growing food on Mars.
Once we succeed in growing food on Mars, we may begin to target reaching another celestial body in the solar system. Do you think we will succeed in growing food on Mars?