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Review of 'Can Plants Grow on Mars and the Moon: A Growth Experiment on Mars and Moon Soil Simulants'

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5
A though-revoking study
Average rating:
    Rated 5 of 5.
Level of importance:
    Rated 5 of 5.
Level of validity:
    Rated 5 of 5.
Level of completeness:
    Rated 5 of 5.
Level of comprehensibility:
    Rated 5 of 5.
Competing interests:
None

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Can Plants Grow on Mars and the Moon: A Growth Experiment on Mars and Moon Soil Simulants

When humans will settle on the moon or Mars they will have to eat there. Food may be flown in. An alternative could be to cultivate plants at the site itself, preferably in native soils. We report on the first large-scale controlled experiment to investigate the possibility of growing plants in Mars and moon soil simulants. The results show that plants are able to germinate and grow on both Martian and moon soil simulant for a period of 50 days without any addition of nutrients. Growth and flowering on Mars regolith simulant was much better than on moon regolith simulant and even slightly better than on our control nutrient poor river soil. Reflexed stonecrop (a wild plant); the crops tomato, wheat, and cress; and the green manure species field mustard performed particularly well. The latter three flowered, and cress and field mustard also produced seeds. Our results show that in principle it is possible to grow crops and other plant species in Martian and Lunar soil simulants. However, many questions remain about the simulants' water carrying capacity and other physical characteristics and also whether the simulants are representative of the real soils.
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    Review text

    I know that there are water and various minerals found on Mars, but it is really shocking to learn that plant can be grown in this soil conditions. I think this research was well designed and carried out with careful control experiments. The paper is clearly written. This study makes us to also think seriously the future of earth soils and crops, without which we human beings can not survive.

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