Salad could be grown on Mars, scientists say – The Independent

Posted: May 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Salad could be grown on Mars, scientists have said after successfully sending seeds on a mission to space.

The research saw a million rocket seeds sent on an actual rocket to the International Space Station. The mission, in 2015, was supported by British astronaut Tim Peake.

When the seeds came back to Earth six months later, 600,000 children across the UK took part in an experiment organised by the Royal Horticultural Society to grow and monitor these seeds.

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Although spaceflight did not compromise seed viability and development of the seedlings, the researchers said the "germination vigour" of the seeds was reduced.

They believe their findings, published recently in the journal Life, take scientists a step closer to knowing whether edible crops can be cultivated on long space missions.

Dr Jake Chandler, of the Royal Holloway's department of biological sciences in London and lead author on the paper, said: "Transporting high quality seeds to space and beyond will be crucial for growing plants that support human exploration of space, Mars and other worlds.

"Our study found that a six month journey to space reduced the vigour of rocket seeds compared to those that stayed on Earth, indicating that spaceflight accelerated the ageing process."

The researchers say that to maintain the quality of dormant seeds during spaceflights, they need to be protected from the harmful effects of cosmic radiation and mechanical vibrations of the spacecraft.

While aboard the ISS, the absorbed radiation dose of the seeds was found to be 100 times greater compared to the Earth's surface.

The researchers believe the radiation exposure during Mars missions would be at least five times greater than that of the ISS.

But despite these challenges, the experts say growing crops on long space missions could be achievable, if the seeds are sufficiently protected.

Mystic Mountain, a pillar of gas and dust standing at three-light-years tall, bursting with jets of gas flom fledgling stars buried within, was captured by Nasa's Hubble Space Telelscope in February 2010

Nasa/ESA/STScI

The first ever selfie taken on an alien planet, captured by Nasa's Curiosity Rover in the early days of its mission to explore Mars in 2012

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Death of a star: This image from Nasa's Chandra X-ray telescope shows the supernova of Tycho, a star in our Milky Way galaxy

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Arrokoth, the most distant object ever explored, pictured here on 1 January 2019 by a camera on Nasa's New Horizons spaceraft at a distance of 4.1 billion miles from Earth

Getty

An image of the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy seen in infrared light by the Herschel Space Observatory in January 2012. Regions of space such as this are where new stars are born from a mixture of elements and cosmic dust

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The first ever image of a black hole, captured by the Event Horizon telescope, as part of a global collaboration involving Nasa, and released on 10 April 2019. The image reveals the black hole at the centre of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides about 54 million light-years from Earth

Getty

Pluto, as pictured by Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft as it flew over the dwarf planet for the first time ever in July 2015

Nasa/APL/SwRI

A coronal mass ejection as seen by the Chandra Observatory in 2019. This is the first time that Chandra has detected this phenomenon from a star other than the Sun

Nasa

Dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks running downhill on the surface Mars were believed to be evidence of contemporary flowing water. It has since been suggested that they may instead be formed by flowing sand

Nasa/JPL/University of Arizona

Morning Aurora: Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly captured this photograph of the green lights of the aurora from the International Space Station in October 2015

Nasa/Scott Kelly

Mystic Mountain, a pillar of gas and dust standing at three-light-years tall, bursting with jets of gas flom fledgling stars buried within, was captured by Nasa's Hubble Space Telelscope in February 2010

Nasa/ESA/STScI

The first ever selfie taken on an alien planet, captured by Nasa's Curiosity Rover in the early days of its mission to explore Mars in 2012

Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Death of a star: This image from Nasa's Chandra X-ray telescope shows the supernova of Tycho, a star in our Milky Way galaxy

Nasa

Arrokoth, the most distant object ever explored, pictured here on 1 January 2019 by a camera on Nasa's New Horizons spaceraft at a distance of 4.1 billion miles from Earth

Getty

An image of the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy seen in infrared light by the Herschel Space Observatory in January 2012. Regions of space such as this are where new stars are born from a mixture of elements and cosmic dust

Nasa

The first ever image of a black hole, captured by the Event Horizon telescope, as part of a global collaboration involving Nasa, and released on 10 April 2019. The image reveals the black hole at the centre of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides about 54 million light-years from Earth

Getty

Pluto, as pictured by Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft as it flew over the dwarf planet for the first time ever in July 2015

Nasa/APL/SwRI

A coronal mass ejection as seen by the Chandra Observatory in 2019. This is the first time that Chandra has detected this phenomenon from a star other than the Sun

Nasa

Dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks running downhill on the surface Mars were believed to be evidence of contemporary flowing water. It has since been suggested that they may instead be formed by flowing sand

Nasa/JPL/University of Arizona

Morning Aurora: Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly captured this photograph of the green lights of the aurora from the International Space Station in October 2015

Nasa/Scott Kelly

Dr Chandler said: "Thus, while we should carefully consider protecting seeds from potentially harmful factors including space radiation and mechanical vibration, the seeds remained alive, and the prospect of eating home-grown salad on Mars may be one small step closer."

Major Peake, added: "In one of the largest and most inspirational experiments of its kind, more than half a million young people collected reliable data to help the scientists at Royal Holloway investigate the effects of spaceflight on rocket seeds.

"When humans travel to Mars, they will need to find ways to feed themselves, and this research helps us understand some of the biology of seed storage and germination which will be vital for future space missions."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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Salad could be grown on Mars, scientists say - The Independent

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