US scientist growing asparagus in meteorites

Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 18:35

Washington: A US scientist is attempting to grow asparagus in meteorites to prepare humans for space farming.

If humans have space colonies, transporting food from the Earth will not be realistic. However, asteroids and meteorites often contain phosphate, nitrates, and even water that plants can feed on.

Michael Mautner, a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher, believes it is not outside the realm of possibility to directly grow certain plants on other planets, in some sort of protected environment.
"People have been talking about terraforming, but what I`m trying to do is give some concrete evidence that it`s possible to do this, that it`s possible to grow in extraterrestrial materials," Mautner was quoted as saying by `Motherboard` magazine.

Terraforming is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying the atmosphere, temperature, or ecology of a planet, Moon, or other body to be similar to those of Earth in order to make it habitable by humans.

"What I`ve found is that a range of microorganisms - bacteria, fungi, and even asparagus and potato plants - can survive with the nutrients that are in extraterrestrial materials," Mautner said.

Mautner is not simply tossing asparagus seeds onto a meteorite. He is grinding up the rock into something more closely resembling soil.
His plan is to eventually find several different plants and extraterrestrial soils that make the most sense to farm, and use his experiments to develop a "rating system" for which are likely to fare best.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 18:35

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