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Scientists in Antarctica Make a Major Breakthrough Growing Vegetables without Sun or Soil

Scientists in Antarctica Make a Major Breakthrough Growing Vegetables without Sun or Soil

Scott Watney memorably managed to keep himself alive in The Martian by growing poop potatoes, but the first human to set foot on Mars likely won’t have to resort to such desperate measures to create a sustainable food source now that scientists in Antarctica have managed to grow vegetables without using any sunlight or soil.

The AP reports a team of researchers at Germany’s Neumayer Station III have harvested eight pounds of salad greens, 18 cucumbers, and 70 radishes, all grown in a high-tech greenhouse without using any soil, sunlight, or pesticides. And they did this in an extreme environment, what with the temperatures outside the facility below zero. And this is just the start; their goal is to grow eight to 11 pounds of fruits and vegetables a week starting in May.

Astronauts have previously cultivated greens on the International Space Station, but this breakthrough could have huge ramifications for potential colonization on the moon or Mars, or even for deep space travel. Being able to grow and maintain a fresh food supply in an inhospitable world, or on trips that will take years if not decades, will be incredibly important to mankind’s journey into the cosmos.

As the old adage says, give a man a poop potato and he eats for a day, but teach him how to grow fruits and vegetables without dirt or sunlight and he’ll be much happier and invite a lot of his fellow Martians over for dinner.

What do you think this breakthrough means for the future of space travel? Take a bite out of our comments below with your thoughts.

Images: 20th Century Fox

More scientific fun!

  1. There’s a scientific explanation for why you get hangry
  2. Here’s why Earth isn’t covered in poop
  3. Watch the first ever video of an anglerfish mating!

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