Simulated “Martian gardens,” developed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Florida Tech Buzz Aldrin Space Institute, are helping researchers overcome food production challenges associated with Mars’ barren landscape
Farming on Mars is much different from farming on Earth. Martian soil consists of crushed volcanic rock with no organic material, making it nearly impossible for plant life to survive, according to a statement from NASA.
“We are using advances in science to learn about increasing plant production to supplement astronauts’ diets,” Trent Smith, project manager for the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) experiment at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, said in the statement. The Veggie experiment has allowed astronauts to garden in space and conduct experiments on plant biology on the International Space Station.
The soil being used in the “Martian garden” was collected from Hawaii and chosen because it simulates the kind of soil found on Mars. Using this Hawaiian soil, the researchers tested how much soil should be used, and which nutrients should be added to the soil, for the various crops to achieve optimal growth.