name-marsIf you’ve seen The Martian movie starring Matt Damon earlier this year, you’re probably aware that Damon’s character, in order to survive on Mars with a limited supply of food, grew his own potatoes. This was done by simulating the conditions back on Earth where it would be necessary for potatoes to grow.

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Interestingly enough, scientists are trying to do the opposite. NASA and the Peru-based International Potato Center (CIP) will begin experimenting growing potatoes on Earth, except that they will attempt to grow them while simulating the conditions on Mars. Given that there are plans for us to one day inhabit Mars, growing our own food is a must, hence this experiment.

The experiment will simulate conditions on Mars, such as using soil from Peru’s Pampas de La Joya desert, which apparently is pretty similar to the soil found on Mars. According to a statement released by the CIP, “The increased levels of carbon dioxide will benefit the crop, whose yield is two to four times that of a regular grain crop under normal Earth conditions. The Martian atmosphere is near 95 percent carbon dioxide.”

In addition to potentially growing our own crops on Mars, the experiment will also affect those living on Earth. According to Joel Ranck, CIP’s head of communications. “We need people to understand that if we can grow potatoes in extreme conditions like those on Mars, we can save lives on Earth.”

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