#SciencePop | Picture of The Day: Martian Carrots

in sciencepop •  11 months ago

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image source

It's a carrot. Why does it look so shitty? Well, it's "Martian" carrots. Certainly, not straight from the red planet, but grown in the soil, very similar in composition to Martian soil.

We know that there is water on Mars , albeit in the form of ice, but this does not prevent to use it for agriculture. Other question: can we use Martian soil for these tasks? If not, humanity will have to solve a lot more problems with colonization.

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The North polar cap. image source

Scientists from Wageningen University and Research Centre have been investigating the analogues of the Martian soil for several years. The prototype of Martian soil is as close to the original as possible and contains the same basic mineral substances: nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. And the scientists didn't use any fertilizers (unlike Matt Damon).

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By the way, for experiments scientists use volcanic soil from the Hawaiian Islands. Which is very similar to the Martian regolith - a loose layer of sand and dust on the surface of planet.

After 3 months they were able to harvest vegetables that do not contain excess metals and are edible. But as we can see, it looks not very nutritious.
The problem is that the Martian soil has poor water-holding capacity, its particles are too small and between them there is less space for moisture.


The Martian regolit. inage source

However, the problem of loosening of the ground is easily solved by ordinary worms. Earthworms are crucial for soil fertility, creatings tunnels which facilitate access of air and moisture. In addition, they recycle waste and produce vermicompost — organic fertilizer that enriches the soil in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

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Young worm, born in mars soil simulant. image source

The same scientists only two months ago have proved that the earthworms successfully survive and reproduce in the "Martian" soil. Thus, theoretically we are able to create a closed ecosystem for agriculture on Mars.

It remains only to develop protection against solar radiation, low temperatures, and solve the problem with the lack of oxygen...


Hundreds of scientific discoveries occur around the world every day. But they may contain insufficient data to create a full-fledged article or seem rather boring for usual readers, because of the strong scientific specifics. Although, I see that steemit community loves science in all its manifestations.

#Sciencepop - science popularization. I suggest you use this tag in order to share interesting news, photos, stories from the world of science in a short format. Perhaps, in time, in this way, we will be able to create a powerful news and encyclopedic database. And use the links not to the external resources, but to sources inside the Steemit platform. This will significantly improve the indexation of the site and improve its position in search results.


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I am very interested in this subject, but I really do not know much. until now I had only heard about the project "Mars One". But all these investigations are necessary for the project to be successful. I think that when we deal with this topic, many prefer to see the image where scientific methods are applied than to have to read them.

Hello @natord,

This is a good informative post about martian carrot.

If you can use steemstem as one of your tags, that will be nice. It is a science base tag coming from there.

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Thank you. Don't know will it right use it on post with low uniqueness?

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I think you should just try it with any of your science post, as long as there is message there, it will work.

Beside from this your science post, it is unique enough, so it will work.

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Thank you for your advice!