[Narrator] We are closer to landing on Mars now than ever before.
Private companies like SpaceX are achieving new feats
in rocket science, the likes of which we’ve never seen.
But rockets will only take us so far.
There are more problems unique to Mars that still stand in our way.
One of them is, where would we live?
Mars is a desolate desert pretty much no matter where you look.
It’s not like there are any oceans or snow capped mountains
to help us decide where to settle down.
But that hasn’t stopped this guy from trying to figure it out.
Our main goal is to investigate if it is possible
to grow crops on Mars and moon soil for people
when they go over there and live there.
[Narrator] Wamelink and his colleague Linechug
have actually made a map of where we should live on Mars.
地图统计了辐射水平 气候 地面
The map accounts for radiation levels, climate, terrain,
and perhaps most importantly, the soil.
We looked at the amount of nutrients in the soil
for instance, calcium, magnesium,
and also other nourishments like phosphates and nitrates.
So what you would normally expect in manure.
And we also looked at the amount of ice that is available.
That is not the same everywhere on Mars.
There are areas where there’s almost no ice
and there are areas with a lot of ice.
[Narrator] The most habitable places are labeled
in dark blue on the map.
And, we’re pretty familiar with some of these locations.
For example, Acidalia Planitia is just north of where
NASA’s Viking 1 and Mars Pathfinder landed.
However, it looks like we should probably steer clear
of some of Mars’ inactive volcanoes,
like Olympus Mons and Elysium Mons.
But how does Wamelink know whether crops
will grow at all on Mars?
Take a look at his Mars garden.
The conditions in the soil here are as similar as possible
to what we might find on Mars.
He’s been harvesting it for the last five years,
and he’s had some amazing success so far.
Well, it’s been a big surprise from the beginning
that many plants are able to grow on it.
The growth is almost the same as if you would use
normal potting soil from earth.
It’s not completely the same, but we are getting there.
We had huge harvest of green beans.
还有西红柿 萝卜长势也不错 马铃薯也一样
Also tomatoes, but carrots are growing fine, even potatoes.
So many different types of crops we are now able to grow.
[Narrator] Wamelink hopes that his work will help
lay the foundations for the first Marian farms.
After all, it’s not like we can send
regular food payloads to Mars.
It takes about 10 months to even get there.
And practical launch windows only open once every two years.
On top of that, astronauts can only bring so much
freeze dried food with them.
So they’ll have to learn to grown their own food indoors on Mars
if we are ever going to live there for long periods of time.
But Wamelink hasn’t just been growing plants.
He’s also figured out how to make the process
as efficient and successful as possible.
The secret, earthworms.
That’s right, earthworms might be some of the first
living things on Mars next to humans.
When you’re on Mars, you want to have a closed system.
So everything has to be reused and worms help with that.
[Narrator] Earthworms feed on the dead decaying
parts of plants that we won’t eat,
but that’s still an essential part of the system.
They break the plant matter down during digestion
so that when they return it to the soil it actually
makes the soil more fertile.
But the most surprising thing was that they could survive
in Wamelink’s Martian soil in the first place.
The biggest surprise was first of all, that they survived
because we know that the Martian soil is rather sharp.
They have really sharp edges.
When you look under the microscope to the soil, you see that.
And well, since the worms eat the soil,
they get it into their gut.
And it would be the same as we, as humans,
would eat a glass that’s broken.
And I expected that the worms may get hurt from it.
But apparently, they are able to cope with it and they survived.
And they didn’t even survive, they had some offspring.
And that was a big surprise for us.
[Narrator] One of Wamelink’s next big experiments
is to perfect the Martian potato.
Turns out, potatoes grow extremely well in Wamelink’s garden.
But they just don’t grow to be very large.
And that’s something we have to solve because then
you get potatoes that are very small and not very tasty.
So that is what we’re going to try to solve this year
in the greenhouse with a special variety of potatoes.
[Narrator] With one more seemingly impossible hurdle behind us,
Mars seems closer than ever.