For the survival of astronauts on the surface of Mars, it will be quite necessary to grow crops on the parched soil of the red planet. Well, researchers have now shown that it is possible to grow vegetables in soil similar to that of Mars. And guess what? They are also safe to eat.
Abundant harvests of no less than ten different crops including radishes, peas, tomatoes, cress, rocket and rye was achieved by the scientists at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Moreover, the tests have showed that the vegetable plants had 'no dangerous levels' of heavy metals. "These remarkable results are very promising," said senior ecologist Wieger Wamelink.
"We can actually eat the radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes, and I am very curious what they will taste like," he added. In order to survive, future Mars astronauts will require to take food supplies with them and plant crops.
Although, actual Martian soil was not used by the researchers, but dirt from Earth was taken to create a mix that was as close to that found on the surface of the red planet.
The soil was developed by NASA and it was closely similar to that of the Mars. After experimenting since 2013, the university finally managed to raise 10 crops. However, it is not certain whether they would absorb high levels of heavy metals like cadmium, copper and lead that are present in Mars soil.
Remaining six crops, including potatoes, need to be tested now. A crowd-funding campaign is backing the research.
Within the next 10 to 15 years, NASA has plans to send a manned trip to Mars. US billionaire Elon Musk and the Dutch company Mars One are aiming to set up human colonies on Mars.
"It's important to test as many crops as possible, to make sure that settlers on Mars have access to a broad variety of different food sources," said Wamelink.