/What Martian Settlers Need to Know About Soil Can Teach us How to Grow Better on Earth

What Martian Settlers Need to Know About Soil Can Teach us How to Grow Better on Earth

Summary: “Deep Space Ecology is all about food security. Because Mars is the most challenging food security problem, if we can solve the problem for Mars, then we can solve food security problems anywhere on Earth

Original author and publication date: Matt Williams – October 28, 2020

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We we ourselves from outside ourselves we find new ways to see ourselves

Image from Universe Today
Image from Universe Today

From the article:

When human beings start living in space for extended periods of time they will need to be as self-sufficient as possible. The same holds true for settlements built on the Moon, on Mars, and other bodies in the Solar System. To avoid being entirely dependent on resupply missions from Earth (which is costly and time-consuming) the inhabitants will need to harvest resources locally – aka. In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).

This means they’ll have to procure their own sources of water, building materials, and grow their own food. While the ISS has allowed for all kinds of experiments involving hydroponics in space, little has been done to see how soil fares in microgravity (or lower gravity). To address this, Morgan Irons – Chief Science Officer of the Virginia-based startup Deep Space Ecology (DSE) – recently sent her Soil Health in Space experiment to the ISS.

The experiment, Determination of Gravitational Effects on Soil Stability for Controlled Environment Agriculture, was sponsored through Morgan’s fellowship with the Norfolk Institute – which provided grant funding from numerous companies (including DSE). An agreement between Norfolk Institute and Rhodium Scientific, LLC (an official space-flight implementation partner of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory) provided access to the NASA launch opportunities and the ISS.

The experiment launched for the ISS on October 2nd, 2020, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility near Wattsville, Virginia. As one of several scientific payloads and technology demonstrators, this one has the honor of being the first of its kind to be sent to the ISS. While seeds and plants have been sent to space since the beginning of the Space Age, no Earth soil has ever been launched.

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