by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Nov 27, 2017
A pair of newborn earthworms in a Dutch lab suggests earthworms can reproduce in Martian soil.
Researchers at Wageningen University introduced earthworms to pots of Mars-like soil featuring arugula plants and organic matter. Early results suggest the earthworms were able to successfully reproduce.
If humans are to establish permanent colonies on Mars, they'll need to grow their own food. Previous research has shown Martian soil can support crop growth. The latest research suggests the soil can also support earthworms, which can recycle dead organic matter -- thus, reducing waste and enriching the soil.
With human excrement used as fertilizer, the earthworms could allow for a closed and sustainable agricultural system to be established on Mars.
In the latest experiment, scientists sourced soil from a volcano in Hawaii. The soil, which is Mars-like in its consistency and mineral makeup, was able to sprout rocket, or arugula. Researchers used pig feces to fertilizer the plants. After adding the organic fertilizer, the scientists added earthworms.
"Clearly the manure stimulated growth, especially in the Mars soil simulant, and we saw that the worms were active," researcher Wieger Wamelink said in a news release. "However, the best surprise came at the end of the experiment when we found two young worms in the Mars soil simulant."
In the soil, earthworms break down dead plant material. The tiny bits of organic matter they excrete is broken down further by bacteria in the soil, supplying the dirt with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which boosts plant health.
In previous Martian plant growing experiments, scientists have struggled to get enough water to the roots. Earthworms not only help provide nutrients, but also aerate the soil, allowing water to permeate the soil.
The research was part of the ongoing Food for Mars and Moon effort organized by NASA. Related experiments have shown Martian and lunar soil simulants can successfully and safely grow a variety of crops, including green beans, peas, radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, watercress and carrots.
Moscow, Russia (SPX) Nov 09, 2017
Researchers from Lomonosov MSU, Faculty of Soil Science, have studied the resistance microorganisms have against gamma radiation in very low temperatures. The results have been published in the Extremophiles journal. Average temperature on Mars is -63C, but in polar areas and at night it can be as low as -145C. There is pressure lower 100-1000 times than on the Earth, strong ultraviolet an ... read more
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|