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Forget ‘The Martian’, NASA wants to grow potatoes on Mars for real

NASA Potatoes Mars Martian

Whether you’ve seen The Martian or not, you probably know of the sci-fi blockbuster starring Matt Damon is about a NASA astronaut who’s stranded on Mars and has to find ways to stay alive even after his food supply is depleted. A botanist, Damon’s character actually knows a thing or two about plants, and he ends up growing potatoes inside the habitat that’s also his home. We won’t tell you more details about the film at this point, but it looks like that strategy isn’t just made for the movies. NASA is actually planning to grow potatoes on Mars, a new report reveals.

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NASA and the International Potato Center (CIP) are going to conduct an experiment intended to prove that potatoes can be grown in inhospitable conditions, the International Business Times reports.

The project’s ultimate goal is actually bigger than helping astronauts grow fresh food on a planet that doesn’t support such life. CIP wants to prove that food can be grown in such harsh conditions, a move that might help save lives on Earth – authorities might be more motivated to fund R&D projects to grow plants in various regions of the world that aren’t suitable for farming in their current state.

Famine currently affects 842 million people around the world, a number that’s continuously rising.

“How better to learn about climate change than by growing crops on a planet that died two billion years ago?” CIP head of communications Joel Ranck said. “We need people to understand that if we can grow potatoes in extreme conditions like those on Mars, we can save lives on Earth.”

“I am excited to put potatoes on Mars and even more so that we can use a simulated Martian terrain so close to the area where potatoes originated,” SETI researcher associate Julio E Valdivia-Silva told the site.

The team is working on the project in Peru.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.