NASA experts are conducting experiments to develop a potato variety, which, perhaps, in the near future, the first Martian colonists will be planted on the Red Planet.
The research is carried out in collaboration with the Lima International Potato Center. For experiments, out of 4000 varieties, 40 were selected that turned out to be the most immune to extreme conditions, even remotely resembling those of Martian.
These varieties are cultivated exclusively in the region of the Andes mountains, where the climate is characterized by sharp temperature drops, rocky soil and a lack of moisture. Several dozen more genetically modified varieties were able to survive with a minimum amount of moisture and were resistant to viruses.
Very strict requirements are imposed on the future Martian potato: it must not only grow well, but also actively multiply. The experiment will be carried out in the La Jolla pampas of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions on the planet. According to the leaders of the project, it most closely matches the Martian environment. Scientists plan to plant up to 100 kg of potatoes. Research can take anywhere from 2 to 5 years.
The Atacama Desert than Mars?
Peruvian astrobiologist Julio Silva, a participant in the project, does not hide his optimism:
“We are almost completely confident that many of the potato varieties we have selected will be successfully selected. In addition to the mission to Mars, this will help solve the problem of hunger in countries where people have to live in unfavorable climatic conditions. "