Scientists living and conducting research in the Antarctic have, for the first time ever, harvested crops in greenhouses installed there. This has made it possible for researchers to now figure out how crops could possibly be grown for human consumption on Mars.
Researchers stationed in the Antarctic have been trying out different techniques to grow food without soil or sunlight, and the first harvest of vegetables has been successfully completed, reported Popular Mechanics (PM).
This experiment was carried out at Germany's Neumayer Station III near the Antarctic coast. The greenhouses set up there were designed to cultivate different types of plants within a closed system. Everything from lighting, water and carbon dioxide levels were closely monitored and optimized.
The first harvest in this greenhouse saw the scientists successfully grow a little over 3.5 kg of salad greens, 18 cucumbers, and 70 radishes. By May, this center is expected to grow little over 4.5 kg of food every week, noted the report.
A model like this can be set up on Mars, said the report. This is similar to the way food was grown in the movie "The Martian". Even though humans are yet to land on Mars, the possibility of growing food for sustenance is a real possibility.
This is also the plan. For, if humans want to end up living and possibly taking over Mars, they cannot depend on Earth for food. They will have to live off Martian produce.
Being self-sufficient on Mars is part of the plan, according to Elon Musk's Mars settlement strategy. Since he plans on setting up a Martian city within a decade, growing food there is a priority.
Research stations have even been set up in the UAE called the Mars Scientific City (MRC), but they have no relation to Musk's SpaceX. The MRC is focused on building habitats for humans as well growing crops inside dome-like structures. The city is now under construction and is expected to sprawl across an area of 177,000 square meters.
This project is all the more interesting because as of now, the UAE does not even have an active space program. "The Mars Science City structure will be the most sophisticated building the world, and will incorporate a realistic simulation environment replicating the conditions on the surface of Mars," the government of Dubai has said in a press release.