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Mars needs minerals

Mars needs minerals
Mars needs minerals

It can take seven months or more to reach Mars. NASA can send supplies to the International Space Station if necessary, but this does not apply to distant planets. Instead, astronauts on Mars must rely on what’s known as the Deployment of Resources on the Ground (ISRU) – to replace objects brought back from Earth. This includes food that at some point will need to be grown there to help the population long term. Instead of dragging trash bags into the spacecraft, researchers are trying to figure out how to deal with what’s on earth, that is. H. with Martian soil.

Thanks to NASA rovers and landers, scientists learned about the pH and mineral composition of the planet’s soil known as regolith. Mars gets its red color from oxidation of rock, regolite, and dust. According to NASA, beneath the dust is bark, which contains iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and other elements. However, its existence is not enough to ensure that plants can thrive there. Nutrients may not be in usable or bioavailable forms. The value of some can be poisonous.

Several studies have shown that it is theoretically possible to grow plants on replicas of Martian soil, but there are not enough samples of actual Mars regolite to be certain. Since there is no way to conduct agricultural experiments on Mars alone, scientists are trying to reproduce conditions on Earth. Researchers at the Florida Institute of Technology recently tried growing Arabidopsis thaliana, weeds, and Lactuca sativa, a lettuce, in a trio of Mars regolith simulators. This simulator is a mixture of artificial and natural materials that mimic the basaltic surface of Mars. Scientists have found that no plant can be found in synthetic soil without added nutrients.

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“These results underscore that ISRU nutrient solutions tend to have lower technological readiness than previously thought,” the researchers wrote in the study, which will be published in Icarus. For example, it would be wrong to assume that regoliths are the same across the planets. “Our strategy is, instead of saying that this simulant grows plants. That means we can grow plants anywhere on Mars, we have to say Mars is a diverse planet,” said Andrew Palmer, professor of marine engineering. and Marine Science Florida Tech News.

In another new study, also published in Icarus, researchers are solving the preparations for five new types of simulators on Mars. Laura Fakrel, a PhD student at the University of Georgia in Athens, and her colleagues have developed a specially formulated mixture with Mars regolith properties and can hinder plant growth. T Soils can have high salinity or little organic matter. Under such conditions, future Martians may need to add minerals and other components to their gardens before planting. “Certain types of bacteria and fungi are known to benefit plants and may be able to sustain them under the stress we see on Mars,” Farrel told TNW.

To test fake manure on Mars, Fackrell tried growing several plants, including moth beans. They work better with less water than the other options he’s tried: “But they’re not necessarily very healthy,” says Farrel Science News.

It will take years before humans reach Mars, but in the meantime, research on growing plants can turn into the earth in a harsh environment where temperatures are rising. Fackrell studied microbes that live in hot springs. “Everything we learn about agriculture on Mars can help farming in the challenging environment on Earth build a sustainable future,” he told Florida Tech News. Reuters