This is the food that you can grow on Mars

Though it's not quite edible yet

Plants growing in simulated Mars soil

Scientists from the Dutch Wageningen University and Research Center has successfully grown 10 different crop species in Mars and moon simulated soil.

This is their second experiment, with the initial run last year seeing most of their plantings barely germinating. This time, however, the scientists managed to harvest tomatoes, peas, rye, garden rocket, radish and garden cress.

The researchers used simulated soils provided by NASA, mimicking as closely as possible to the soils found on Mars and the moon.

Similar to the method used by Matt Damon's character in The Martian, the researchers were able to achieve better results by adding manure and fresh cut grass to the simulated soils.

Dr. Wieger Wamelink explained in a statement that the team found the crops produced from the Mars soil simulant "was not significantly different from the potting compost we used as a control."

"That was a real surprise to us," he said. "It shows that the Mars soil simulant has great potential when properly prepared and watered."

In comparison, the moon soil simulant didn't produce as healthy a crop, producing "about half of the biomass" as the Martian simulated soil.

However, while the crop harvest was largely successful, the scientists do explain that the produce isn't quite ready for human consumption.

The simulated soils have heavy metals like lead, arsenic and mercury, plus a high concentration of iron. It's likely those have been absorbed into the crops, making them pretty much poisonous to people.

Still, it's a big step towards creating a method of growing food on planets other than Earth, preparing us for when we are ready to colonize Mars.

Image credit: Food for Mars and Moon

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