It may not be long before we see plant life on Mars.
NASA’s researchers have proposed an experiment that would send plant seeds up to Mars in a rover with the hopes they will grow in the planet’s atmosphere. Dubbed the Mars Plant Experiment (MPX), approximately 200 seeds of a small flowering plant commonly used in scientific researched, called Arabidopsis, will receive water when the rover lands on Mars and be given several weeks to grow.
Scientist Chris McKay says that the experiment will be entirely contained so that there isn’t a possibility of Earth life escaping onto Mars. Rather, the experiment will require a clear “CubeSat” box, the case for a cheap and tiny satellite, which would be attached to the outside of the 2020 rover and contain Earth air along with the Arabidopsis seeds.
MPX deputy principal investigator, Heather Smith, of NASA’s Ames Research Center says, “In order to do a long-term, sustainable base on Mars, you would want to be able to establish that plants can at least grow on Mars. This would be the first step in that…we just send the seeds there and watch them grow.” The experiment will test Mars’ environment, with its high radiation and low gravity levels, for the potential to sustain plant life.
Who knows, maybe vegans will be the next Earth life on Mars!
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