Can we grow food on Mars?

If we are ever to colonise Mars, we will need to grow food – but will that be possible?

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Future human settlers on Mars will need to construct greenhouses in order to grow food on the Red Planet

Future human settlers on Mars will need to construct greenhouses in order to grow food on the Red Planet. Image Credit: NASA

Asked by Janet Darren

Plants would struggle to grow in the different and harsher conditions on the surface of Mars. The lower gravity, lower light levels, different atmosphere and nutrient-lacking soil on the Red Planet would make it difficult for Earth-adapted plants to survive without assistance.

Future human settlers on the surface would need to construct greenhouses or special modules where they can re-create more optimal conditions for crops to grow, potentially growing them hydroponically, without soil. Being able to farm will be an essential skill for a colonist of Mars.

Horticulture experiments currently underway on the International Space Station (ISS) will help us prepare for a future where we could grow food on other planets, moons or even in space itself.

Answered by Zoe Baily from the National Space Centre

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