If you’ve ever questioned whether we’d be able to grow crops on a Mars colony (or moon colony) you can wonder no more.
Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have created simulated soils of both Mars and our moon and attempted to grow vegetables in them. It turns out it’s not as difficult as we might have once thought. The researchers over the past two years have grown 10 crops, including peas, rye, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, carrots, and radishes.
But while the harvest seems to be plentiful, the biggest question remains: Are they edible?
That question will be answered on June 29 when the researchers finally taste one of the vegetables – a radish – after “heavy metals” tests were recently conducted on all of the vegetables.
“We had crops and harvested them, tomatoes, rye grains, radish, rocket, cress, but did not taste them yet,” Wamelink told Gizmodo. “First we have to make sure that it is safe to eat them because of the heavy metals that are present in the soils and may end up in the plants.”
The heavy metal tests concluded the radishes, peas, tomatoes, and rye all had normal levels, and in fact sometimes had lower levels of iron, cadmium, chrome, or lead than vegetable plants grown on Earth.
The researchers believe that once they administer the taste test, they’ll be able to know if the plants can be consumed on a larger scale. Wieger Wamelink, lead researcher at the university, warned the plants could have developed high quantities of alkaloids that may be poisonous to humans. The vegetables will likely have a funny taste if alkaloid levels are beyond normal.
But if all goes well, those moon and Mars colonies are looking a lot more feasible.