The first million people to live on Mars won’t survive solely on vegetarian diets but will also need alternative proteins, including insects, to gain critical calories, according to research by University of Central Florida planetary scientists.
In the paper, Feeding One Million People on Mars, published in New Space, UCF researchers Kevin Cannon and Daniel Britt laid out what it would take to feed a Martian population based on what is known about Martian soil and the equipment needed to grow or make food on the red planet.
Unfortunately for fans of “The Martian,” it just isn’t sustainable to farm your way to a full crop of potatoes out of Martian soil — and human feces.
“If you think of the regolith (soil) on Mars it’s just fundamentally different than the soil on Earth you grow crops in,” Cannon said. “There’s no organic matter, there’s no bacteria and fungi.”
Cannon knows a lot about dirt from other worlds. As the founder of UCF’s Exolith Lab he creates Mars, moon and asteroid simulants.
It would take some work to transform Martian dirt into a more Earth-like soil. Because of that, Cannon and Britt say the more favorable method for Martian farming will be hydroponics.