Scientists at University of Southampton, UK are planning to grow lettuce on Mars in 2018 under the Project #LettuceOnMars. Under the project the team will grow small plants with gases obtained from the Martian atmosphere, with a minimum of material imported from Earth.
The aim of the project is to prove that plant life can thrive in the controlled greenhouse environment and that the resources on Mars can be appropriately managed to establish a permanent human settlement.
The scientists led by Suzanna Lucarotti will demonstrate their project via a payload in the form of lettuce that will be carried by Mars One Lander in 2018.
Mars One Lander will be launched by Mars One which is a not-for-profit foundation that aims to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2026.
How lettuce will be grown on Mars?
The greenhouse of the project would be launched from the Earth with lettuce seeds, water, nutrients and systems for atmospheric processing and monitoring.
As per the plans, on its way to Mars, the greenhouse will be powered down while the lettuce seeds will be frozen and will be reactivated again after Mars One Lander lands on the Red Planet. The activated powers will help in heating elements to maintain a temperature between 21°C and 24°C.
Whereas, Carbon Dioxide which is essential for the plants life will be extracted from the Martian atmosphere and will be processed before entering the growth chamber. Further, the lettuce will be grown without soil and water and nutrients will be sprayed on it on a regular interval.
When suitable environment will be created, the plants would start growing. On completion of the mission, the heaters would be switched to full power, exterminating all life in the payload.