Martian Meal: Tomatoes Grown In 'Space' Soil

Experimental crops grown in 'Martian' soil have been harvested, and the tomatoes are out of this world.

Ten different crops have been grown by researchers in the Netherlands, using soil taken from a volcano in Hawaii designed to mimic conditions found on Mars.

In the latest experiment the team grew peas, rocket, radishes, and cress, along with leeks, spinach and chives.

But it was the tomatoes that were perhaps the most impressive - with images released showing plump produce with a vibrant red colour.

Mars Food

While the Mars-equivalent soil produced slightly fewer crops than regular Earth soil, the results show that early colonisers could be able to sustainably feed themselves.

Lead researcher Wieger Wamelink said: "It shows that the Mars soil simulant has great potential when properly prepared and watered."

The volcanic soil was mixed with fresh cut grass in shallow trays, while a control tray contained regular Earth compost.

But before you decide to pack your bags for Mars - there are a couple of issues to note with the experiment.

Mars Food

While the soil resembled that found on Mars, the experiment did not mimic the other conditions found on the Red Planet - such as extreme temperatures and harsh space radiation.

Instead the crops enjoyed stable humidity, light and temperature.

Mr Wamelink said this is because the first crops grown on Mars are likely to be grown in underground rooms.

And while some of the crops look good enough to eat, we're not quite sure whether we could.

Mars Food

Because the soil contains heavy metals like lead and arsenic, they could pose a risk to humans.

Mr Wamelink said: "If the components become available for the plants, they may be taken up and find their way into the fruits, making them poisonous."

Further testing will take place to establish whether humans can safely consume them.

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