In the movie The Martian, actor Matt Damon portrayed an astronaut marooned on Mars who survived by “science-ing” a crop of potatoes that he could eat.
Now, NASA scientists are looking to make spuds on Mars a reality, as they work on developing a mission to that planet and back in the 2030s.
“We’ve never done this before,” said Julio Valdivia-Silva, a NASA astrobiologist testing the hardiest potato varieties in soil from the Atacama Desert in South America, one of our closest analogues to the red planet.
Growing tubers on Mars could provide explorers with more than just food — becoming dyes or even tiny batteries in a pinch. But the plants face quite a challenge, with unforgiving soil and atmosphere. Mars has 60 percent less gravity than Earth and an average temperature of minus 64 degrees Celsius.
Nevertheless, scientists are optimistic that creating the proper climate under domes could enable the first crops grown on another planet.
With the right technology and techniques, french fries might be on the menu on Mars.