Researchers believe that more than four billion years ago, Mars was a warm and wet planet, possibly even swarming with life. Many spacecrafts sent on missions to orbit Mars have returned with visuals of flood valleys and canyons. Some features even suggest that once water flowed on the surface of this now, cold, dry, and desert-like planet.
But how can farming be done without water? Water is a quintessential element for life, and without it no know organism will be able to survive on the planet. There is no clear answer yet to this question however, years of extensive research and climate models indicate that we could transform the Red Planet into an earth-like world using technology.
NASA plans on a manned mission in 2023, and without a doubt, such an experiment would allow scientists to examine the planet closely and give us the opportunity to spread life beyond Earth.
Many key physical properties of the Red Planet are amazingly similar to ours. The length of a day on both planets is about 24 hours. Like Earth, Mars also experiences seasons, with the planet’s axis being tilted to an identical degree as the Earth’s. Since Mars is farther away from the sun, a year on Mars is almost twice as long as compared to an Earth year, however, scientists believe plants should be able to adapt.
But one unalterable difference between the planets is gravity. The gravity on Mars is around one-third of that on Earth. So how would plants and life adapt to reduced gravity is still indefinite. However, it is most likely that plants and some animals might just be able to adjust to Martian gravity.
Does Mars hold the necessary volatiles needed for a habitable environment? However, what we do know is that the Martian atmosphere is thin and contains only small amounts of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor.
However, scientists believe that some of these volatiles used to be present on the planet and may be trapped under the surface. Melting the ice and thickening of the atmosphere would lead to the creation of a more ‘livable’ environment on Mars.
Leading ecologists have studied the possibilities of growing food on the Red Planet, and have come to the conclusion that many plant species can germinate perfectly with Martian soil. Scientists have tested growing plants on artificial Martian soil provided by NASA and have gained positive results, which further increases the need for an manned mission to Mars.
Why We Need Plants on Mars?
One such reason that has led towards the idea of farming on mars is to combat something that’s known as ‘menu-fatigue’ in astronauts. It’s a fact that when you consume the same foods again and again, over time you start eating less and your physical condition is adversely affected.
Besides that, it costs a lot to send food to astronauts, $10,000 per pound at the least. Experimenting plant growth on Mars, other than creating a new habitual environment, would provide much needed nutrition to astronauts.
So, in conclusion, the prospect of successful farming on Mars seems somewhat promising. The plant waste there, if mixed and composed with Martian soil, could make effective crops. A quite similar process to what occurs in lava fields, as plants will slowly colonize a basaltic landscape and provide their organic resources to it.