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Can Plants Grow On Mars?

Since the industrial revolution in the 18th century, countries around the world gradually developed machinery to increase the production of goods. As factories were spontaneously constructed throughout developing nations, the demand for energy to power these machines also soared. However, this was not a problem for many nations, as there had been an abundance of coal and other fossil fuels for millions of years. There is no way that harvesting and combusting these fossil fuels to mass-produced goods for society would have any drawbacks, or would it? As of recent years, climate change has been a huge concern around the world as problems including natural disasters have become more frequent. The number one cause for the deterioration of our planet is the excess build-up of greenhouse gases caused by the combustion of fossil fuels to release energy.

While many governments and organizations are trying to revert our actions to save our planet from the catastrophe which is bound to happen at this rate of global warming, there is still the possibility that we are too late and the Earth itself will become uninhabitable. . Moreover, with the increase in human population reaching almost 8 billion as of 2021, humanity must find a new habitat to survive. This leads many scientists and organizations to question the possibility for humans to inhabit Mars.

For humans to survive we need food, water, and shelter as the bare minimum. So, the big question arises; Is it possible to produce food on Mars? Well, since humans are heterotrophs, we must consume other organisms to stay alive. To have organisms to consume, we would most likely need to cultivate autotrophs that can absorb energy from the sun and nutrients from the Martian soil.

Since Mars is the fourth furthest planet away from the sun in our solar system with Earth being the third, the light intensity on Mars would be around 44% lower than Earth’s. This is because the light waves would have to travel a longer distance and would disperse more. This would most likely cause autotrophic plants to grow at a slower rate than on earth as it would photosynthesize at a slower rate. However, the light intensity on Mars would still make it possible for plants to grow.

While the extent of the advancements in technology, when humanity eventually settles on Mars in the future is unpredictable, it is reasonable to assume transporting objects with large amounts of mass would be costly. Hence, it would be most ideal to cultivate plants on the native Martian soil.

Scientifically, using the term soil to describe the contents of the ground on Mars would be incorrect as stated by Ralph Fritsche, a senior product manager at Kennedy space station, “Soil, by defi