Food grown in a Mars-simulated soil was qualified as edible by the team of researchers in charge of the project. The four crops fulfill the requirement established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Researchers from the Wageningen University & Research, a Mars One supported-project, have worked on growing crops on Mars and Moon soil simulants since 2013. But is was not until now that the radishes, peas, tomatoes and rye from Mars were determined as editable, according to a press release from Mars One.

Astronauts have already achieved the incredible, as they have succesfully grown many vegetables. Among the popular, astronauts have achieved to germinate lettuce plants, potatoes and more. Image Credit: DR's Space for Astronomy
Astronauts have already achieved the incredible, as they have successfully grown many vegetables. Among the popular, astronauts have achieved to germinate lettuce plants, potatoes, and radishes. Image Credit: DR’s Space for Astronomy

Four out of the ten grown crops were tested for heavy metals, and the team found no dangerous levels of aluminum, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, chrome, nickel and lead in the grown food.

“These remarkable results are very promising” commented senior ecologist Dr. Wieger Wamelink. “We can actually eat the radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes and I am very curious what they will taste like.”

The team added that during the testing for some of the heavy metals, the concentrations in the plants were even lower than in the crops grown in potting soil. However, the Mars’s dirt was enhanced with some organic matter from Earth, that currently is not present on the red planet, as reported by the Huffington Post.

Researchers had previously stated over the Earth organic matter that people colonizing Mars could theoretically bring those small amounts of matter with them to the planet to assist in growing crops.

Crowdfunding material

The research is funded through a crowdfunding campaign, which already yielded over €11,000. But the team requires for another €14,000 to test the other six crops remaining. According to Wamelink, it is important to check as many products as possible to make sure that settlers on Mars have access to a broad variety of different food sources.

As a promise to those who fund the project, there is a dinner held by the team from food from Mars. This would make the sponsors the first ones to eat the “Martian” vegetables and will discover if the food tastes different than the one from Earth.

But his will only be possible if all the plants’ heavy metals level are below the critical levels set by the Dutch Food Agency and the FDA. Although the testing was mainly related to the heavy metals, researchers also tested for vitamins, flavonoids and alkaloids.

“Mars One is very proud to support this important research,” commented Bas Lansdorp, CEO, and co-founder of Mars One. “Growing food locally is of particular importance to our mission of permanent settlement, as we have to ensure sustainable food production on Mars. The results of Dr. Wamelink and his team at Wageningen University & Research are significant progress towards that goal”.

Mars One, the private Dutch organization aimed to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2026, supported the project, although support was in the form of publicity instead of any direct financial assistance.

An unpublished study

Even though the claimed events may represent an incredible opportunity for humankind in the red planet, the research and its results have not been officially published by any scientific journal specialized in the matter or the university itself.

The unpublished finding means that it has not been peer-reviewed. With no particular paper, other researchers in the area cannot critique the methodology used nor determined if the finding is what they claim to be. Also, there is yet to find out if the crops would be still edible if grown in a real Mars soil.

NASA is taking the cultivation process in the red planet pretty seriously, as it has managed to grow a few vegetables in martian soil. Image Credit: Inhabitat
NASA is taking the cultivation process in the red planet pretty seriously, as it has managed to grow a few vegetables in Martian soil. Image Credit: Inhabitat

Mars One’s lack of confidence from NASA

As it was previously stated, Mars One is a company that is looking to establish people on Mars within the next ten years. But the primary goal has not been received very positively from the U.S. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

NASA chief Brian Muirhead recently commented that although he loves the idea of a crowdfunded space flight, he do not have much confidence in commercial missions to Mars and their ability to finance the expedition as reported by Venturebeat.

“God, I would love it. The problem with my new study … is funding,” he told Black Hat attendees when asked about if he would love to see NASA-supported through crowdfunding. “Unfortunately, these missions are pretty expensive. We would love to have the public involved, the public support. The problem is we still have to work through Congress.”

This was seen as a direct comment about Mars One situation, to which the company responded with a simple “watch us.” Lansdorp admitted in an interview with VentureBeat that funding the project will be one of the bigger challenges. But with the overall business case of financing a mission with revenues from broadcasting, the team have no doubt their project is a profitable business case, Lansdorp added.

Source: Mars One