Could Mars Grow Plants? Scientists Think So

Traveling to the Red Planet might take us a while, but growing a green crop is almost impossible. Or not?

Astronauts spending time on Mars will have to rely a lot on ISRU (in-situ resource utilization), including food because sending any stuff up there could take us too much. So, could they “grow” some food?

That is an issue that soon might have a solution. Researchers are now trying to figure out how to make something with what’s on Mars, here on Earth.

Here is what you need to know.

What Are the Chances: Mars Could Have a Green Future

So far, scientists have collected enough data to understand the mineral and pH makeup of Mars’ soil (regolith). For instance, the planet’s color is from the oxidation of rocks, dust, and regolith. 

Also, underneath the dust, there is a crust made of magnesium, potassium, iron, and much more. And that sums up Mars’ structure.

Unfortunately, even if the amount of elements is plenty and diverse, it is not enough for plants to thrive there. The reason? Some may be toxic.

Promising results

Previous research has indicated that theoretically, we can grow plants in replicated Martian regolith. Too bad that we don’t have enough of it. 

Some, however, don’t give up that easily.

A team of researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology has grown a weed dubbed Arabidopsis thaliana and lettuce, Lactuca sativa, in a mix of Martian Regolith Simulants. 

To note, the simulants represent a mix of basalt-like Martian surface.  

The team explained:

“These findings underscore that ISRU food solutions are likely at a lower technological readiness level than previously thought.”

What to Expect

We still need time to figure more things out about Mars. Even the idea of traveling to the Red Planet is still a huge challenge for some.

However, in the meantime, we can simulate here on Earth different environments and grow plants. We have plenty of harsh habitats where temperatures are rising, similar to Mars.

The possibilities are infinite, but we only need one reliable solution to send to the Red Planet.


Georgia Nica
Writing was, and still is my first passion. I love all that cool stuff about science and technology. I'll try my best to bring you the latest news every day.