In the movie “The Martian,” Matt Damon plays the astronaut Mark Watney who survives being stranded on Mars by farming potatoes in Martian dirt that’s fertilized with feces. Truth is, future astronauts who go on Mars could grow crops in dirt and avoid solely relying on resupply missions. However, new lab experiments show that growing food on the Red Planet will be a lot more difficult.
Plants on Mars?
Researchers planted weed and lettuce in three kinds of fake Mars dirt. Two were made from mined materials in Hawaii or the Mojave Desert that are similar to the dirt on Mars. To mimic the makeup of the surface of Mars even more closely, the third was made from scratch using clays, volcanic rocks, salts, and other chemical ingredients that NASA’s Curiosity rover has seen on the planet. While both the weed and lettuce survived in the Mars-like natural soils, neither could grow in the synthetic dirt.
Earth soil is full of microbes and other organisms that help plants grow. However, dirt from Mars is crushed rock. The new result shows that if people want to grow plants on Mars using soil, they are going to have to put in a lot of hard work to transform the material into something that plants can grow in.
Biochemist Andrew Palmer and his colleagues at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne ran a few tests. They planted A. Thaliana seeds and lettuce in imitation Mars dirt under controlled temperature and lighting indoors, just as astronauts would on the Red Planet. The plants were cultivated at about 70% humidity and 72 F temperature.
More About the Research
Seeds of both species grew in dirt mined from the Mojave Desert or Hawaii, as long as the plants were fertilized with a cocktail of potassium, nitrogen, and other nutrients. No seeds of either species could grow in the synthetic dirt, so they would grow up plants under hydroponic-like conditions, and then they would transfer them to the artificial dirt. Growing plants on Mars is not as easy as it is shown in the movies.
Man Recycles & Transforms 150 Old Coolers Into Makeshift Shelters for Cats
As you sit soundly in your home at night, it can often be harrowing to know that there are so many helpless animals out there who do not have owners or shelters of their own. While many people try to simply put this thought out of their minds, there are others who want to do something about it — and this man is one of them.
A Devastating Sight
Philip Rogich — from Ogden, Utah — first noticed the stray cats in his area in November 2019. While he assumed that these cats had homes and were simply out for a wander, he soon realized that there was a whole community of stray cats near his home. It was a devastating sight for the animal lover, and he knew that he had to do something to help. In his eyes, “living creatures deserve to have their basic needs met,” and he wanted to give them “a second chance, one way or another.”
Putting Them Together
The animal lover wanted to provide the stray cats with shelters, and he soon had a stroke of genius. Using old coolers, he drilled a six-inch hole into the side of them before filling the insides with straw to ensure that they could stay safe and warm. He knew it wasn’t much, but he also knew that it was much better than being out in the cold.
A Social Media Trend
All in all, Philip believes that he has created 150 cooler cat shelters over the past few months, and while he has had to put this on hold to move himself to a new home, he has also started a social media trend. After seeing his genius invention, more and more people across the United States are now creating their own makeshift cat shelters.
It’s amazing what you can do with just a few materials, isn’t it?