The Martian Super Potatoes; The 'Unique' Potato Variety [VIDEO]
Dubbed as the Martian super potatoes, the Unique potato variety showed the greatest promise to grow in Mars and survive in its harsh environment. Unique was developed in Peru by a team of researchers, scientists and engineers from the International Potato Center, the University of Engineering and Technology and NASA.
The development of the Unique potato variety drew inspiration from the Hollywood movie "The Martian" that starred Matt Damon. The researchers created CubeSat which mimicked the temperatures of Martian day and night, air pressure, and very high levels of carbon dioxide, the Forbes reported. The scientists monitored the growth of the plants through 24/7 live streaming.
The Unique potato variety was the spud that thrived the most in the CubeSat environment. It was grown in soil shipped from the Pampas de la Joya region of Peru which is considered the driest in the country with just gets a millimeter of rain every year. It was among the only four that sprouted, out of the 65 varieties NASA hoped to be Martian super potatoes, the Sky News reported.
The consortium of scientists hopes that the study will help in the determination how well plants adapt to the environments. Previous researches dwelled more on optimizing conditions to produce food but this study focused more on understanding the lowest limits possible for plants to survive. Dr. Ray Wheeler of NASA believes this is particularly important data to have when considering pre-deployment of food sources and plant growth systems before human colonization of Mars.
The Martian super potatoes are going to be subjected to three more simulations of different conditions to be able to get a wider range of results. They hope to grow the variety in an atmosphere that has more carbon dioxide and mimic the air in Mars.
The cultivation of the domestic potato started in Peru 7,000 years ago. And if the project becomes successful, it will be the birthplace of the first potato grown in Mars.