Scientists successfully grow potato plant in Mars-like harsh conditions

Using a simulator replicating Mars-like harsh environmental conditions, a team of Peruvian researchers have successfully grown a potato plant.

The researchers started the experiment at the International Potato Centre in Lima in 2016; roughly a year after the Hollywood movie “The Martian” featured a stranded astronaut on Mars. In the movie, he survives by working out how to grow potatoes under hostile conditions on the Red Planet.

Astrobiologist Julio Valdivia of Peru’s University of Engineering & Technology said the results of the successful experiment bode well for extraterrestrial agriculture as well as food production in dry regions of Earth.

Sharing the results of the experiment, Valdivia said, “It’s not only about bringing potatoes to Mars, but also finding a potato that can resist non-cultivable areas on Earth.”

Here on our planet, the new experiment could help solve the deadly famines that threaten almost 20 million people around the globe, including nearly 1.4 million children.

The harsh environmental conditions in which the researchers grew potato plant included temperatures below zero, air pressure similar to that found at an altitude of 6,000 meters, and high concentrations of carbon monoxide.