Will we someday be harvesting asparagus on Mars? People have been dreaming about colonizing the Red Planet and transforming it into an Earth-like heavenly body for decades. These stargazers got a little boost last week, when it was announced that soil samples gathered by the Phoenix Mars Lander indicated that Martian soil may be able to support some vegetables, such as asparagus or turnips. “It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard–you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well,” said the project’s lead chemist. The tested soil was full of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Not only that, but the area where the Phoenix touched down is thought to have ice beneath its surface.
Of course, a few stumbling blocks remain. No one has yet figured out how to overcome Mars’s subzero temperatures, paltry atmosphere, and the extraordinary food miles required to ship the resultant asparagus.