Researchers grow crops in simulated Martian and Lunar soil

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Researchers from the Dutch Wageningen University and Research Center announced on Tuesday that they had successfully cultivated 10 food crops in soil that simulates what astronauts would encounter both on the Moon and on Mars. The team managed to harvest tomatoes, peas, rye, garden rocket, radish and garden cress -- a much better result than the team's initial experiments in 2015 which saw only a few individual plants even germinate. "The total above-ground biomass produced on the Mars soil simulant was not significantly different from the potting compost we used as a control", Dr Wieger Wamelink said in a statement. Though their results have yet to be peer reviewed, the team reportedly managed its success by making the "alien" soil a bit more Earthlike. Lunar soil, for example, is extremely hydrophobic and Martian soil -- based on what we know from satellite analysis, at least -- isn't much better. However, by adding stuff like freshly cut grass and manure to the simulated soils, the researchers managed to significantly increase yields. "That was a real surprise to us," Wamelink continued. "It shows that the Mars soil simulant has great potential when properly prepared and watered. The biomass growth on the moon soil simulant was less than on both other soils, about half of the biomass. Only the spinach showed poor biomass production." Read More: Engadget

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