NASA is currently working on plans for its first manned mission to Mars, and since the round trip to Mars and back to Earth totals to about four years, it’s crucial astronauts are supplied with enough food. However, packing enough food for four years within the rocket is difficult, expensive, and risky. The solution? Growing food on Mars.
NASA needed help developing this solution, and who better to turn to than the Utah State University, University of California, Davis, and another university agriculture program. CUBES (Center for Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space) is a $15 million, five-year project that has the three universities working together to create the technology necessary for making longer space missions possible.
There are a lot of challenges these researchers must face in order to successfully grow food on Mars. The characteristics of the planet’s soil, the amount of light exposure, and other atmospheric conditions make Mars’ climate much different from Earth’s.
But the schools are up for the challenge.
“The spin-offs from studying an extreme case like Mars could have great value for food production on Earth,” says Bruce Bugbee, a botanist at Utah State University. “What if we discover a new bacteria that could help Iowa corn fix nitrogen? That would be huge for Earth.”
The researchers have already made exciting developments in this project, and we’re excited to see where it goes. For more information on their findings so far and what they’re expecting, read more here.More From: UC Davis, University of California, Utah State University
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