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Chinese scientists discover plant capable of surviving on Mars

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This plant is an extremophile desert moss (organism resistant to life conditions that are fatal to most others) of the family Pottiaceae< /em>. From its little name Syntrichia caninervis, it could flourish on the red planet without requiring shelter. ;#8217;a protective greenhouse. Already recognized for its extraordinary capacity to adapt to particularly inhospitable terrestrial environments such as the Antarctic continent or the Mojave Desert in California, it would potentially be a good candidate for transforming the environment of the planet Mars and the make it livable.

Indeed, despite the extreme conditions that reign on Mars, characterized by freezing temperatures and an atmosphere mainly made up of carbon dioxide, this robust foam seems to have the necessary resources to thrive there.

A super-foam to resist Mars

For reaching these conclusions, the scientists reproduced with the extreme conditions of the Martian environment in order to assess the resilience of Syntrichia caninervis. Their experiments revealed that this extraordinary foam can withstand temperatures down to -112 C° and come back to life after near-total dehydration.  Even more surprising, it demonstrated a remarkable resistance to radiation, even managing to develop under the influence of certain doses of gamma rays.< /p>

The researchers highlighted in their article, published on July 1 in the journal The Innovation: “ The unique information obtained in our study lays the foundation for space colonization using plants naturally selected to adapt to extreme stress conditions&amp ;nbsp;”.

This advance could have considerable repercussions on future space missions. Stuart McDaniel, a moss specialist at the University of Florida, explains: “Growing land plants is an important part of any long-term space mission because plants efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and carbohydrates – essentially the air and food humans need to survive  “. Although Syntrichia caninervis is not edible, it could play a key role in facilitating the growth of other plants on the Red Planet.

Chinese scientists discover plant capable of surviving on Mars

Close-up on this famous Syntrichia caninervis © John Game/Wikipedia

Vegetating space to colonize it

Although this remarkably resilient moss is not yet capable of radically transforming the Martian environment, this discovery nevertheless represents a fairly significant advance in the field of plant cultivation in an extraterrestrial environment.

Scientists are already considering shipping this remarkable moss to Mars or the Moon in order to further study its colonization and growth capacities outside our planet. They conclude their study by stating: “Looking to the future, we hope that this promising moss could be taken to Mars or the Moon to further test the possibility of plant colonization and growth in space.”

However, certain questions still persist despite these encouraging results. McDaniel points out that these experiments do not conclusively demonstrate that this foam could provide a sufficient source of oxygen under Martian conditions. They also do not prove that it would be capable of reproducing and proliferating in such an environment. Agata Zupanska, a researcher at the SETI Institute, tempers the enthusiasm by adding that although we are getting ever closer to the possibility of growing plants in extraterrestrial greenhouses, to claim that this moss is ready to terraform Mars would be an “ exaggeration ”.

  • An extremophile moss, named Syntrichia caninervis, was studied by Chinese scientists.
  • They demonstrated that the plant was capable of surviving Martian conditions, suggesting that it could be used in the long term to help us terraform Mars.
  • However, other specialists temper this observation by asserting that this foam could, on its own, ;#8217;prove to be insufficient.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116