Fifty years ago, astronauts brought lunar regolith back to Earth. Now, University of Florida scientists have grown plants in tiny samples.
It was clear that the plants were not as robust as the control group plants growing in volcanic ash, and the plants were growing differently depending on which type of sample they were in. The plants grew more slowly and had stunted roots; additionally, some had stunted leaves and sported reddish pigmentation… the plants were indeed under stress and had reacted the way researchers have seen Arabidopsis respond to growth in other harsh environments, such as when soil has too much salt or heavy metals. NASA
Plants will grow in various sterile materials, or with no solid substrate at all, given proper nutrients and light, so my first thought was… now we see that lunar regolith is not poisonous. Good to know. But it wasn’t totally inert, either.
Will astronauts, or maybe colonists, grow food hydroponically? Aeroponically? Will the pumps, pipes, and valves needed for such systems be too much to transport and maintain compared to beds of local regolith? Even after whatever treatments may be needed to prepare the alien soil? Will bioreactors brewing microbes make more sense? I suspect all these possibilities will be tried at some point, but I can’t predict what method will win. Maybe bulk calories will come from those bioreactors, with herbs and flowers that brighten a hard life in space sitting on every table. What plants would you want in your colony?
I started my Martian farmers with treated regolith, spiked by composting and recycling everything organic they could get their hands on, but I have an advantage over NASA. I create science fiction. Join my colony on Mars – what do you think?
Travel to Mars in these science fiction adventures and plant your boots on the Red Planet. Five full length books begin with the first explorers and continue through generations. Find stories readers call spectacular, believable, and one of the best Mars stories.
- Glory on Mars – Roboticist Emma Winter must discover the truth before the Red Planet kills the first settlers.
- Born on Mars – Jake didn’t ask to be born into a failing habitat on Mars. When new colonists land half a world away, can he save his friends and family?
- Hermit on Mars – Sig will save ungrateful Martian miners if it kills him.
- Water on Mars – Scoundrels on Mars and Earth drag Bliss into their deadly schemes.
- Storm on Mars – Zeker must find a way back into the colony, but can a psychopath save humanity’s foothold on Mars?