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This Guy Tried to Grow Food on ‘Martian’ Soil and Was Surprised When It Worked

It wasn’t Matt Damon.

Mars, in an image shot by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Photo: NASA/Public Domain)

It won’t be easy growing food on Mars. NASA is trying, of course, in case humans ever get there. But the conditions are tough. You’ve got little oxygen, constant sand storms, and subzero temperatures. 

There’s also the problem of the soil. Would vegetables grown in Martian soil even be safe to eat? Would they grow at all? 

At least one researcher, in the Netherlands, says he’s already done it, albeit here on Earth. 

Wieger Wamelink, a Dutch agricultural researcher, tells Agence France-Presse that he has replicated some of the conditions on Mars with soil purchased for $3,080 from NASA. 

The soil isn’t Martian, but, according to Wamelink, it’s close enough, originating from a volcano in Hawaii. 

Wamelink planted some peas, tomatoes, and cresses, among others, to see what would happen. To Wamelink’s surprise, they grew. 

“Especially in the Martian soil, plants were growing very fast and very good. They even started to flower, something that we never anticipated,” Wamelink told AFP

Wamelink has some advantages, of course—no freezing cold or sand storms to deal with—but he says his experiment shows that Martian produce is far from impossible. 

But it’s still perhaps a long ways away.