Hops and Rye grow “fairly well” on Martian soil with the help of coffee beans and fertilisers produced back on Earth, according to a student experiment at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
“I was trying to come with a project for the students to do, a catchy project that would be fairly easy,” Dr. Guinan, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, told the New York Times.
NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander have analysed Martian soil in great detail, and scientists have since replicated its unique characteristics in order to test its crop-growing potential.
Guinan ordered 45kg worth of “Martian soil” — which is made with crushed basalt from an extinct volcano in California’s Mojave Desert.
Guinan set his students to work. Each were assigned their own patch within a greenhouse and asked to grow crops of their choice in order to feed a hypothetical colony of migrants to Mars.
“I kept telling them, ‘You’re on Mars, there’s a colony there and it’s your job to feed them. They’re all depending on you.”