In the future, Martian colonists should be able to grow themselves a delicious salad in the planet's soil. The Guardian reports that Dutch scientists who have been growing a range of crops in artificial Martian soil have found that several veggies and one grain are safe to eat.
Scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have been experimenting with farming in faux Martian soil since 2013. Although the soil isn’t actually culled from the surface of the Red Planet, it’s mixed with minerals found in Martian dirt to create a close imitation. So far, scientists have grown 10 crops and have tested four for consumption: radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes were all safe to eat. Although Martian soil contains heavy metals like cadmium, copper, and lead, none of the crops had dangerous levels of any heavy metals.
Researcher Wieger Wamelink says that more tests are needed to determine whether other veggies are safe to eat. Since different plants absorb metals differently, each must be tested before consumption to ensure safety. He and his team plan to crowdsource funding for further tests and experiments and, according to a press statement, will provide rewards for donors that include samples of their Martian crops.
While four certifiably safe veggies might not seem like a lot, it’s exciting to know that there is some potential to safely farm using Martian soil.
“These remarkable results are very promising,” Wamelink told The Guardian. “We can actually eat the radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes, and I am very curious what they will taste like.”
[h/t The Guardian]
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