Dutch crops grown on 'Mars' soil found safe to eat

June 23, 2016
Researcher Wieger Wamelink inspects the plants grown on Mars and moon soil simulant in a research facility at the university in Wageningen, The Netherlands on May 6, 2016

Dutch scientists said Thursday crops of four vegetables and cereals grown on soil similar to that on Mars have been found safe to eat, amid plans for the first manned mission to the planet.

Abundant harvests of radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes all grown on the soil were found to contain "no dangerous levels" of heavy metals, said the team from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

"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."

Future Mars settlers will have to take food supplies with them and then plant crops in order to survive.

So using soil developed by NASA to resemble that of the red planet, the university has been experimenting since 2013 and has managed to raise 10 crops.

But uncertainty remains about whether they would absorb the high levels of heavy metals such cadmium, copper and lead, present in Mars soil.

Further tests are now needed on the remaining six crops, including potatoes, in research which is being backed by a crowd-funding campaign.

NASA plans a manned trip to Mars within the next 10 to 15 years or so, and similar projects are also being pursued by US billionaire Elon Musk and the Dutch company Mars One, tentatively aiming to set up human colonies on the Red Planet.

The Mars One project has backed the Wageningen experiments and is currently undertaking a third selection to whittle down the remaining 100 candidates hoping to be among their astronauts to 40.

"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.

Explore further: First tomatoes and peas harvested on Mars and moon soil simulant

Related Stories

Growing plants on Mars

March 28, 2013

We have been to the moon several times. Next time, we may go back for a considerable period. And concrete plans for a one-way ticket to Mars have already been forged. Food will have to be grown on location. Is this a distant ...

Mars 'colonists' to undergo five days of tests

June 6, 2016

The 100 candidates on the shortlist to establish a human colony on the planet Mars are to undergo tests as part of a new phase of the selection process, the project organisers said Monday.

Vegetables on Mars within ten years?

April 15, 2014

The soil on Mars may be suitable for cultivating food crops – this is the prognosis of a study by plant ecologist Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen UR. This would prove highly practical if we ever decide to send people on a ...

Musk explains his 'cargo route' to Mars

June 12, 2016

SpaceX chief Elon Musk shed light on his new plan to send an unmanned spaceship to Mars as early as 2018, as part of his quest to some day colonize the Red Planet.

Recommended for you

Overflowing crater lakes carved canyons across Mars

November 16, 2018

Today, most of the water on Mars is locked away in frozen ice caps. But billions of years ago it flowed freely across the surface, forming rushing rivers that emptied into craters, forming lakes and seas. New research led ...

SpaceX gets nod to put 12,000 satellites in orbit

November 16, 2018

SpaceX got the green light this week from US authorities to put a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit in order to boost cheap, wireless internet access by the 2020s.

Electric blue thrusters propelling BepiColombo to Mercury

November 16, 2018

In mid-December, twin discs will begin glowing blue on the underside of a minibus-sized spacecraft in deep space. At that moment Europe and Japan's BepiColombo mission will have just come a crucial step closer to Mercury.

9 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Iochroma
4 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2016
Yes, but will the plants still produce under the high levels of radiation they will be subject to on Mars.
lichdar
5 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2016
Well, we just need to begin to test radiation. That said, we will probably grow them in a dome, no?
691Boat
5 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2016
If I had to guess, I would think these crops would be grown in a more controlled environment to be able to prevent that, as well as keep water in the soil and provide a better atmosphere. That way they can also capture the O2 being generated by the plants for human use.. Just my thoughts.
ArtGranda
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2016
Our world is teeming with life, in the air, water, soil. Getting it to grow here, even in a simulant, does not guarantee it would grow on Mars, even if Mars were covered in simulant. It's a dead world that literally sucks the life out of life. The Martian was just a movie.
some1also
1 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2016
"People are allowed to protest and give their speech wherever they want."

These words make no sense at all

the 1st Amendment gives everyone the right to say anything they want, but it does not guarantee anyone a place to say them...

if a community wants to limit speeches to a certain part of the city for reasons of safety, they can... this will be appealed
Captain Stumpy
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 24, 2016
So using soil developed by NASA to resemble that of the red planet, the university has been experimenting since 2013 and has managed to raise 10 crops
this is what i said we could do in the following thread: http://phys.org/n...oil.html

if we know the Martian soil constituents we can build a simulation and test it here: however, this is not what certain other pseudoscience posters stated

here we are actually testing a simulation of martian soil just like i said we could do without having to actually bring physical Martian soil back to earth...
we're starting small and checking to see plant uptake
next we'll simulate lower gravity and other threats, after we check more

imagine that...
Max5000
3 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2016
"NASA plans a manned trip to Mars within the next 10 to 15 years or so"

Nonsense. NASA has no such plans. Never have such plans been announced. The only "plans" NASA/Obama claimed was to do a flyby in the 2035 or more exact "2030's". Those are the only official claims/plans announced. Taking humans to mars would be at least 3 times as expensive as going back to the moon. And Nasa/Obama had to cancel that Bush era plan because it was totally unfordable.

And "plans" of a flyby is still very far removed from doing an actual manned landing and return. On top of that NASA has no money to build the actual hardware for even just a flyby mission. They can hardly even pay for the new rocket. Mars One also is making no headway with investors. The only one who could succeed is Musk. But most of his plans have been delayed time and time again. And while he might deliver on his promise of sending dragon capsules to mars it is still far, FAR! removed from an actual manned mission.
Shootist
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2016
No variegated Tulips I hope. Wouldn't want to roil the markets or anything.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2016
Nuff said
Nope- sorry, @bschitt
you said, and i will quote you
This is yet another aspect of the mars dream that people overlook. The Martian soil will need to be brought back to earth for study, to determine what colonists will have to add to it in order to make it fertile
we have been able to do that without bringing soil back b/c we actually can determine what Martian soil is made of without having to bring it back

more to the point: we *can* test it here and mimic almost every environmental/exposure aspect of said growing cycle to determine what we would need to do (as i noted)

the only thing we can't actually do right now is mimic Martian gravity to test how it will grow in it - but i can predict we will be able to do that in short order

epic fail on your part
still

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.