Learning about growing food on other planets is of interest too, especially if we plan to live on Mars. In the film The Martian, Matt Damon’s character famously grows potatoes in Martian soil – with a little help from his (and his crewmates’) own self -made fertiliser. Let’s face it, we’re talking astro-poo here. In the film it worked, but could it work in the real world?
Step in the International Potato Center in Peru (I know, they were a new one to me too!). They ran a simulation using Peruvian soil similar to that found on Mars. Mars has soil that is thin and lacking in chemicals like nitrogen, which helps plants grow. Its atmosphere contains not much oxygen and is very cold (around -60 degrees Celsius). Despite this, the old International Potato Center pulled it off, using fertilisers and nutrient-enriched water, suggesting farming on Mars might well be possible. Way to go International Potato Center!