The US space agency NASA is examining whether potatoes from Peru are suitable for being grown on Mars.
Out of 4,500 potato varieties, they have selected 100 to be tested under extreme “Mars-like” conditions. The potatoes have to be able to grow in different ecological zones, resist sudden climate change and thrive in poor soil. This is not dissimalar to the potato cultivation of Matt Damon in the Oscar-nominated film “The Martian” , where Aksel Hennie also had a part.
Of the hundred varieties, 40 are from Peru, while the remaining 60 are enhanced types that can survive on small amounts of salt and water and also are immune to viruses.
The potatoes are to be grown in a laboratory in Lima in 100 kg soil from the Atacama Desert reminiscent of that found on Mars. The plants will be exposed to strong ultraviolet radiation in an atmosphere consisting mostly of carbon dioxide.
Plants that survive the samples also have to be of a type that will provide a large crop.
– We must be prepared for the future so that we can cope with desert conditions, rising temperatures and high salt levels in the soil, virologist Jan Kreutz at the laboratory says.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today