Scientists have succeeded in growing two worms in Martian soil in a pioneering experiment which took place in the Netherlands.
In what could be a real life replication of what Matt Damon did in the movie Martian, scientists simulated the Martian soil in which two worms were born. The experiment is aimed at exploring the possibilities of farming on the Red Planet.
The birth of these two worms took place in synthetic Martian soil which was created using volcanic terrestrial rocks. This breakthrough research gave hope to the possibility of growing crops on Mars one day.
Live adult worms were added in the soil to figure out their ability to cope with the unusual terrain and reproduce successfully.
Wieger Wamelink, a biologist from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) explained that the scientists had no hope that this experiment would be successful.
"Clearly the manure stimulated growth, especially in the Mars soil simulant, and we saw that the worms were active. However, the best surprise came at the end of the experiment when we found two young worms in the Mars soil stimulant," Wamelink was quoted by an Express report.
The weather naturally prevailing on Mars makes it impossible to grow crops on the planet. Worms help in growing crops by helping in breaking down the organic matter present in the soil which provides nutrients to the plants, like potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen.
The baby worms that took birth in the simulated Martian soil point toward the fact that they can grow in these closed ecosystems and it raises the probability of growing food on Mars in the future.
It was also discovered that the worms are likely to do their work better in the Martian soil compared to Earth's soil.
"The positive effect of adding manure was not unexpected but we were surprised that it makes Mars soil simulant outperform Earth silver sand," Wamelink said.
A crowd funding campaign has been launched by the organisation which led to this discovery for continuing experimenting with worms to turn Matt Damon's flick into a reality.
Named "Worms for Mars" Wageningen University and Research are hoping to raise £8,800 (INR 758534) to continue the experiments on these creatures and find how they would react to the soil when farming a variety of different crops, Express stated.
The US space agency NASA aims at developing the facilities to send humans to Mars for a long term mission by the year 2040 and figure out whether existence of life is possible beyond Earth.