Some predict that humans could be colonizing the red planet in as little as a decade.
No matter when it turns out to be however, the colonies may be sustained by potatoes.
The potato plant shows promise and may be the greatest source of food for generations to come for Martian dwellers, SiliconRepublic reported.
The idea was recently popularized in the movie the Martian, where Matt Damon grows potatoes on Mars using an improvised greenhouse. However, according to the new study he may have been able to grow them outside.
Scientists from the International Potato Center wanted to see if the plant could grow in an extreme environment, so they recreated Mars-like conditions in an experimental CubeSat (box).
Incredibly, after a period of a few weeks, the scientists found that the plant was beginning to grow just as it would on Earth.
The team chose a specific variety that had been engineered to grow here on Earth in the difficult terrain of Bangladesh, where salty coastal soil would make it difficult for a completely natural potato to grow.
“If the crops can tolerate the extreme conditions that we are exposing them to in our CubeSat, they have a good chance to grow on Mars,” said researcher Julio Valdivia-Silva. ■
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