A new Mars update shows that greenhouses won't work on the red planet due to cosmic radiation as plants would need to live underground.
Aside from extreme temperatures and lack of water, the lack of magnetic fields would also mean that radiation constantly pummels to the surface makes it difficult for life to deal with.
Crops on Mars
According to the story by UniverseToday, for humans planning to spend a long time on the red planet, they will still need the support of another additional type of life, crops.
As of the moment, however, it appears that even greenhouses won't be able to protect plants from the deadly Martian radiation, according to a paper published by the Wageningen University and the Delft University of Technology researchers.
Ideally, agriculture on the red planet surface would be done in greenhouse domes to allow the limited sunlight to reach the crops directly.
However, greenhouse glass technology is still unable to block deadly gamma radiation that Mars is filled with.
Estimations on future Mars colonies go all the way to 2100, which is almost a century away.
Mars Gamma Radiation Levels 17x Earth's
The gamma radiation levels are reportedly 17 times higher on Mars compared to how they are on Earth. This is enough to significantly affect the crops that are grown in greenhouses.
Researchers also ran an experiment where they tried planting garden cress and rye in order to measure the crop output of a group irradiated with the same levels of Martian gamma radiation with those that are grown in Earth-level radiation.
The crops that are in the irradiated group would turn up as dwarves that had brown leaves and also resulted in a very significantly decreased harvest after a total of 28 days of growth.
In order to mimic the exact gamma radiation environment, an undergraduate researcher who performed much of the project's work, Nyncke Tack, used five different cobalt-60 radiation sources.
Mushroom fungus has also been found on Mars, which now begs the question, is there really life on the red planet?
Mars Radiation Plane
The sources were then scattered evenly overhead of the actual test crops in order to create a type of "radiation plane" that was similar to the present Martian radiation level.
Other particular confounding factors include adding both beta and alpha radiation, which could also contribute to the whole crop deterioration.
Solid objects, however, can more easily stop those particular types of radiation.
The findings did not surprise the research team and suggested building underground farms where the planet's own regolith blocks a lot, but not all of the radiation.
NASA is still currently trying to figure out how to farm on the moon, according to CNBC.
This would also have a very obvious disadvantage of losing direct access to sunlight, but would have the benefit of a more controllable environment, with LEDs as well as temperature control filling in for actual environmental conditions on the surface.
In order to prove their theory, the team is going to commandeer a Cold War-era bunker located in the Netherlands in order to see if the exact same irradiation experiments could potentially affect crops that are grown inside should the irradiation come from outside.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by Urian B.