在模拟火星环境的条件下成功种植马铃薯使在火星上种粮食成为可能。

NASA在送宇航员到火星之前需要想出他们在那里如何吃饭。因此,美国太空总署和秘鲁的一个研究小组专注地投入在马铃薯的研究项目上面。

2017年3月初,国际马铃薯研究中心宣布经过一年的时间后,他们能够成功地在一个模拟设计出火星严酷环境的土壤里种植马铃薯。

在地球上,我们种植粮食的陆地上包含营养丰富的土壤、长时间的光照和温暖和一个拥有大量二氧化碳的大气层。提供植物水,粮食拥有它们所有需要的事物。但是在火星上,土壤是含盐量高且松散的,而且缺少诸如氮气等植被生长需要的化学物。尽管火星的赤道那里在夏季能达到温和的70华氏度(21摄氏度),可是平均温度却只有零下80华摄氏度。

2016年2月份,工程师造出一小块模仿火星一种版本的气候的土地。用秘鲁潘帕斯德拉乔亚沙漠里的土壤——跟火星的土壤很相像,因为那里是很少生命可以存活的地方,有机混合物也几乎不存在。他们也创造出和火星相似的条件。

研究人员种下能够抵挡住含盐量高的土壤的土豆种子,给它们加上额外营养的水。一年之后,这个团队报告他们已经成功地种植小产量的马铃薯——意味着他们在火星上也有可能实现这个目标。

他们只证明了在火星的条件下马铃薯很有可能能生存下去。稍微调整后勤的工作,比如想出如何携带种子、水和植物的营养对我们的邻居行星完全是另一件事。

Before it can send astronauts to Mars, NASA needs to figure out how to feed them there. To work that out, the US space agency teamed up with a research group in Peru focused exclusively on spud research.

Last week, CIP announced that after a year, it had been able to successfully grow potatoes in a plot of land engineered to mimic Mars’ harsh environment.

On Earth, the land where we grow crops typically contains nutrient-rich soil, long periods of sunlight and warmth, and a carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere. Provided plants get water, crops have everything they need to grow. But on Mars, soil is salty, loose, and lacking chemicals like nitrogen, which plants need to grow. Although it can get to a balmy 70°F (21°C) near the Martian equator in the summer, the average temperature is around -80°F.

In February 2016, engineers created a small plot of land imitating a version of Martian climate where plants could possibly grow. They used soil from the Pampas de La Joya desert in Peru—similar to Martian soil because it is home (pdf) to very little life and few organic compounds. They also created atmospheric conditions similar to Mars.

Researchers planted seeds for potatoes that had been bred to withstand salty soil and gave them water that had been fortified with extra plant nutrients. After a year, the team reported they had successfully grown a small crop of potatoes—meaning they could probably grow on Mars, too.

They only prove that it’s likely possible for potatoes to survive in Martian conditions. Fine-tuning logistics, like figuring out how to bring the seeds, water, and plant nutrients to our neighboring planet is something else entirely.