Any explorers visiting Mars and the moon will have to boldly grow where no man has grown before.
Setting up lunar or Martian colonies will require that explorers raise their own food. New research finds that simulated Martian soil supported plant life better than both simulated moon soil and low-quality soil from Earth. But many problems must be solved before astronauts can pick their first extraterrestrial eggplant. The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.
"Research like this is needed to fine-tune future plans for growing plants on Mars, which I think is going to be a very useful thing if we want to have colonization or even a shorter-term stay on Mars," said John Kiss, a plant biologist at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, who did not participate in the research. "It’s hard to carry all the food with you."
This week on Txchnologist, we learned how biologist Zhen-Ming Pei and his team discovered a gene called OSCA1 that serves as a thermostat for plants. The gene is the foundation of the plant’s dehydration alarm system, and signals the organism to begin deploying countermeasures to endure the prolonged absence of water. The team believes the gene can be altered to eventually grow crops that are more drought-resistant, which would augment food production in areas where water scarcity plagues the population.
Astronomers are in the final steps of preparing to launch a stratospheric balloon holding an advanced X-ray detector into the atmosphere above New Mexico. The instrument will measure the polarization of a variety of targets – a galaxy, a neutron star, a binary star system, and two black holes. The success of this launch will provide a closer look into the astrophysics of these objects in addition to other fundamental physics governing the universe.
Stanford University researchers reported they have successfully disassembled water molecules into gaseous hydrogen and oxygen with the electromotive force of a single AAA battery, improving on the centuries-old method of the electrolysis of water. With this advance, they may have created a more efficient way to generate hydrogen gas fuel for coming applications in fuel cells for cars and power generation.
Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.