Looks like The Martian was right about one thing: potatoes can grow on Mars.
No, they didn’t fly a potato to space. They put it in a hermetically sealed CubeSat filled with the “most Mars-like soils found on Earth” from a Peruvian desert. Then they mimicked the temperature, air pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels of Mars.
And it worked. Congrats! Mashed potato for everyone.
The project came from the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima, Peru, with help from NASA’s Ames Research Center.
While it’s not news that potatoes can grow in Mars-like soil, it’s exciting to learn they could grow in the harsh atmospheric conditions of the red planet.
“Growing crops under Mars-like conditions is an important phase of this experiment,”Julio Valdivia-Silva, a researcher on the project, said in a statement. “If the crops can tolerate the extreme conditions that we are exposing them to in our CubeSat, they have a good chance to grow on Mars. We will do several rounds of experiments to find out which potato varieties do best.”
And because potatoes such a high calorie count, they’re the perfect food to sustain bored astronauts. No word on whether researchers will further test the potato by dipping it in Vicodin.