Reality may finally be stranger than fiction. Or at least science fiction inspired by the book and subsequent blockbuster “The Martian.” In the book, Astronaut Mark Watney grew potatoes to survive on Mars. NASA is now attempting to recreate fiction with the assistance of the Lima-based International Potato Center. And Russia may not be far behind in the great potato space race of the 22nd century.
NASA Putting Potential Mars Spuds to the Test
Researchers have chosen the Pampas de La Joya Desert in Peru as their test site. It is one of the driest places on the planet humans presently call home. It is also a section of the Atacama Desert, a vast plot of desert similar to Mars-like conditions. And more importantly, Mars-like soil. NASA plans on planting 65 varieties of viable spuds in more than 1,300 pounds of soil. NASA has been experimenting with a variety of plausible food sources for Mars. If successful, they plan on transporting potatoes to Mars in special refrigerated tubes.
Russia Could Potentially Reach Mars Faster
There is a lot of speculation involving human travel to Mars. A one-way trip to Mars is estimated to take about 18 months. However, Russia proposes a shorter itinerary. While NASA is growing potatoes in Peru, Russia has developed a plan to revolutionize space travel. They have been experimenting with a nuclear engine for space travel. Other Mars enthusiasts like Elon Musk plans to launch humans toward the Red Planet within a decade. Space One, a Dutch non-profit is planning a permanent Mars colony to be in place in roughly ten years time as well.
The Spud Inspired Space Race May be On
Will everyone be munching on organic Mars french-fries? How about baked potatoes? It wouldn’t be completely unrealistic to think Russia is exploring potato possibilities. NASA and Russia’s Federal Space Agency have been timeless space competitors. Claiming to be the first to plant Mars potatoes is simply another flag to be planted in the name of one’s country. There may also be an economic angle. Russia may be able to corner the Mars spud market prior to Nasa’s arrival. They would have a substantial head start of roughly 16 months. Russia could potentially sell the pricey space potatoes at a premium price with no competition.