Martians singing the ketchup song!

Scientists have discovered a way that could enable astronauts to grow tomatoes on Mars

Big Zero Report 2022

Movies featuring space missions to Mars may no longer receive “rotten tomatoes” as astronauts could have their own farm of fresh space tomatoes!

Scientists at the University of California Riverside and the University of Delaware have developed an “electrocatalytic” process named “artificial photosynthesis” which could enable a more sustainable food production even in the dark and on Mars.

The technology is designed to convert carbon dioxide, electricity and water into acetate, the form of the main component of vinegar.

Food-producing organisms then consume acetate in the dark to grow.

Combined with solar panels to generate the electricity to power the electrocatalysis, the system is predicted to increase the conversion efficiency of sunlight into food, up to 18 times more efficient for some foods.

The research has found that crop plants, including tomato, tobacco, rice, cowpea, canola were able to utilise carbon from acetate when cultivated in the dark.

Martha Orozco-Cárdenas, Director of the UC Riverside Plant Transformation Research Center, said: “Imagine someday giant vessels growing tomato plants in the dark and on Mars – how much easier would that be for future Martians?”

Marcus Harland-Dunaway, Co-Lead author of the study, said: “We found that a wide range of crops could take the acetate we provided and build it into the major molecular building blocks an organism needs to grow and thrive.

“With some breeding and engineering that we are currently working on we might be able to grow crops with acetate as an extra energy source to boost crop yields.”

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