View Full Version : "Your homework is... grow plants on Mars." Red Thumb project

Roger E. Moore
2019-Jun-07, 06:36 PM
Teachers might wish to get a copy of this paper. You get simulated Martian regolith!


The Red Thumbs: Growing Plants on Martian Regolith Simulant
Guzman, Giannina; Guinan, Edward Francis; Engle, Scott
American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #233, id.257.05 (01/2019)

Having humans reach Mars has recently become one of the most popular upcoming space missions and in order to ensure a healthy colony in a cost-effective, self-sustainable way colonies will need to cultivate food. Since the cost of a rocket correlates to its weight, loading rockets with Earth soil would be cost-ineffective and not self-sustainable, especially if it is possible to farm in Martian regolith. This project, then, explores the extent to which we can grow and harvest plants in a controlled environment using Martian regolith simulant. Due to its popularity, the experiment naturally garners a lot of attention, making it an excellent tool for teaching. Although it was originally applied to a college-level class, it can also be adapted to many levels of education by simplifying certain aspects within the experimental process in order to make it more qualitative. We obtained our regolith from the company The Martian Garden, and we experimented with vermiculate, organic soil builder, acidifiers, and a variety of plants to observe which seemed to thrive the most in which conditions. There are many facets which we explored that can be implemented in order to reach the desired effect on the class. The experiment provides a way to show the difficulties of growing plants on Martian regolith, which opens a door to discussions on challenges for future missions, composition of the Martian surface, the Martian environment, and the astrophysical history that led to such conditions on Mars.

2019-Jun-10, 05:28 PM
Reporting to have thread title fixed. (You might get more responses!)