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  5. Mark Watney’s dream in The Martian will come true in Peru

Mark Watney’s dream in The Martian will come true in Peru

Mark Watney’s dream in The Martian will come true in Peru

Scientists will grow potatoes in conditions similar to those on Mars. Its objective? Fight against climate change and malnutrition.

starwars, The Martian o Inside Out are some of the best films of the year. The plot of the second film, directed by Ridley Scott and based on the book by Andy Weir, tells the story of an astronaut who is left alone on Mars and must do the impossible to survive. For this, the character played by Matt Damon comes up with really clever ideas in order not to die on the red planet.

The food and water reserves he has are insufficient to survive for a long time, at least until a NASA mission comes to his rescue. but the astronaut Mark Watney He is also a botanist and takes advantage of his knowledge to avoid dying of hunger and thirst on Mars.

In one of the scenes of the film, Damon tries to grow potatoes on a planet as arid and dry as Mars. Something impossible at the moment given the climatic conditions of the red planet. Researchers of the International Potato Center in Peru they want, however, to face this challenge. To do this, they have started an R+D+i project, in collaboration with NASA, to grow potatoes in conditions similar to those on Mars.

Joel Ranck, director of communication for the CIPOTATE, commented that the best idea to study climate change was precisely trying to “grow crops on a planet that was practically dead more than 2,000 million years ago.” The objective of the study is to understand if it is possible to grow potatoes in conditions of temperature and humidity as extreme as those on Mars. If we succeed, we might be able in the future to grow crops of interest on land affected by drought or excessively high temperatures.

Peruvian scientists have worked for years to find out how potatoes are grown and their nutritional richness. Today we know that it is an excellent source of vitamin C, iron or zinc, in addition to containing very important micronutrients for our body. This investigation, therefore, would affect both the fight against climate change as well as efforts to combat malnutrition and poverty or ensure food security.

To mimic the conditions on Mars as much as possible, as Mark Watney did in The Martian, scientists will collect soil from the arid zone of Pampas de La Joya in Peru. In addition also recreate extreme atmospheric conditions in the laboratory, increasing carbon dioxide levels to simulate what happens on the red planet, where the atmospheric concentration of CO2 reaches 95%. The results of this work will allow us to lay the first foundations on “extraterrestrial agriculture”, as we were taught in the unforgettable The Martian.

Pictures | IPC