Thinking ahead, as always, some NASA researchers are suggesting that Arabidopsis (pictured below) be grown on Mars. [*As an FYI the Arabidopsis is a small flowering plant that is related to cabbage & mustard and is traditionally used for scientific research.] The next Mars rover heads to the planet in 2020 and arrives in 2021 and just might have a stowaway if the project, called the Mars Plant Experiment (MPX), is permitted to tag along. This would by no means be the primary intent of the rover and in fact once it has arrived and is set up it is quite self-sufficient.
It has long been understood that if a colony on Mars were expected to survive in the long term that you would certainly want to establish that plant life can grow.
The MPX plan is as follow. A clear ‘CubeSat’ box would be carried on the outside of the Mars rover. Besides containing Earth’s air it would contain about 200 Arabidopsis seeds.
Upon arrival the seeds would receive water and then left alone for a term of two weeks.
There are so many things that need to be tested. One of the tests is an organism-level test of the Mars environment. Why is this important? The results will show how well life from Earth can subsist on Mars. Keep in mind there are higher levels of radiation and a lower gravity with which to contend.
Of course this would be just the beginning. Next thing you know greenhouses on Mars!
I just have to bring in a reference. I know it’s not the same thing and would never happen that way but I think the movie was Mission to Mars…..remember the greenhouse and how the whole planet seemed to come alive? Kind of gives you chills!