On July 31, 2008, NASA announced that they have found water on Mars.
This leads to the key of the presence of life. So what is the possibility of planting trees on Mars?
It took us thousands of years to hone farming on Earth. Soil on Earth contains living and dead organisms including bacteria, plant matter, rocks, minerals and nutrients like nitrogen.
The Martian atmosphere has such a low pressure that if you were to put a plant or an animal on the surface, it wouldn’t be able to breathe.
For plants, CO2 must be converted into oxygen. This can done by implementing cyanobacteria algae. As far as now, Mars doesn’t have organisms living beneath its soil to aerate it and break down the matter, hence this is a huge challenge.
To simulate Martian soil, we first have to gather information about Mars. The red planet’s surface gravity is just one third of the Earth’s and it has an atmosphere mostly made up of carbon dioxide but lacking oxygen.
Martian soil contains carbon dioxide, oxygen and sulfur compounds as well as carbonates or things that indicate the presence of water, but the water is only 2%.
In 2016, researchers grew tomato, spinach and chives in an imitative Martian soil on Earth, producing only slightly less than they would have in Earth soil. They also experimented this with Moon soil, which produced about half the amount compared to Earth soil.
However, it should be noted that organic matter was added to the soil in this experiment, without that the plants wouldn’t have lasted. NASA gathered soil samples on Mars and then composed an approximation of Martian soil using volcanic soil. They planted 14 plants and grew them over 50 days.
The researchers were surprised to find that the plants actually did pretty well using the phosphorus and ion oxides in the soil to take root.
The lower gravity and temperature of Mars will make it difficult for water to be pulled into the soil and tougher for the plants to evaporate their excess moisture plus, the Sun is a lot farther away, so any Martian plants will need extra light.
Martian soil does in fact have a lot of essential nutrients needed for plants to grow, depending on where exactly you are on Mars, just like Earth, with some areas that have nutrient poor soil and some with nutrient rich soil. Some parts of Mars would be better suited for growing plants than others.
It should be said that plants have been proven to be versatile. They have grown in Mars simulations on Earth and also grown in the International Space Station.
The question will be whether the plants grown on Mars will be edible or not. The answer will be known only by growing plants on Mars.