Scientists in Germany are testing ways to keep the human race alive when it relocates to Mars, including growing food in bodily fluids.
The human race could be upping sticks and moving to the Red Planet relatively soon, and the journey up there will be a long one.
In fact, the likelihood of not having any food by the time humans get there is high. Therefore, brainiacs on earth are looking into how to offset hunger with farming on Mars, but there’s a catch.
Jens Hauslage, a plant physiologist at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), is currently growing a tomato plant in a tank of piss. You heard right.
“The Earth is a closed biological system with plants producing oxygen and food; then you have the animals and the microbes to produce all the degradation processes in the soil,” Hauslage told the BBC. “Without these systems, no sustainable long-term life-support system will be viable.”
To do this, the scientists used columns and filled them with urine, then they dumped pumice stones into the golden liquid. They allowed the bacteria living within the pumice to eat away at the pee, thereby converting the ammonia within to nitrites – which are a fertiliser. This in turn allowed the tomato seeds to flourish. The tomatoes themselves have a pretty bitter taste but are apparently edible.
After witnessing the magic of vegetables grown in a number 1, a thought comes to our minds – what about number 2? Lest we forget, Matt Damon’s character ate potatoes grown in poop in The Martian.
“For me as a scientist, faeces is not quite gold like urine,” says Hauslage, “but it contains a lot of potassium which we need for a good fertiliser.” There are, however, dangerous pathogens in this solid waste that would need careful handling and processing.
Haulage and his team are hard at work to test their experiment into space at the end of this year, the Eu:cropis mission will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket which will carry tomato seeds, synthetic urine, and bacteria.
The vessel full of pee and tomatoes will orbit the earth in two greenhouses and thanks to 16 cameras on board, the scientists will monitor the plant’s progress.
If we’re being honest, this food revelation – along with the nasty side effects of living in another planetary environment – makes us happy we can’t afford the trip to Mars.
Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.