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lettuceonmars507 karma

Mate: We have chosen lettuce for a number of reasons.

First and most important: it is widely used as a test plant for closed systems. It is growing currently in Mars simulation experiments on Earth, and even on the ISS in orbit. So we have a lot of data on how lettuce will behave on Mars, but nearly no such data about corn.

Secondly, lettuce is wholly edible, while we only eat the seeds of soy and corn, and we throw most of the plants away. So lettuce converts nutrients to edible material with low waste.

Third, lettuce grows fast and is easy to fit into a micro greenhouse: its basically edible within 4 weeks of germination. For corn we would need to wait months, and design a huge greenhouse that could house that big plant

lettuceonmars438 karma

Janki: (Part 2: How can you guarantee that the Martian environment won't be contaminated?)

You can't really guarantee anything, but the idea here is that we minimise the risk absolutely as much as possible. So here are a few of the things that we're doing:

  • Using HEPA filters, which will stop, for example, bacteria or viruses getting in or out of the greenhouse through the airlock.

    • The lettuce will be incinerated upon completion.
    • The project will take place as a semi-closed system. We are only extracting some gases from the environment.

lettuceonmars272 karma

Janki: Yes, this was a great concern to us. The all-powerful "Mars Lettuce" haunted our dreams whilst we were still trying to come up with a solution to this. Ultimately we prevent this by using HEPA filters in the airlock and incinerating the lettuce upon completion.

lettuceonmars222 karma

lettuceonmars219 karma

Janki: I feel as though one of the main aims of Mars One is to engage the public and promote an interest in space exploration. The competition itself was open to University students, not large space organisations. Though all of the teams in this competition have good science behind them, I don't think that that was the main aim here. It could be argued that one of the reason that space projects don't have a larger budget is because the public doesn't care. Hopefully, in this way everyone can get involved with one of the most exciting ideas of our generation: Exploring Mars!