Surviving On Algae And Sushi During Earth To Mars Journey Is A Good Idea

First Posted: Feb 14, 2017 04:48 AM EST

For many years, scientists and researchers have been planning to touchdown and form human colonies on Moon and Mars. One of the most daunting questions involved in such missions is how to provide food for the astronauts during and after the Earth to Mars journey. But, what if they can grow their own food?

Though it is just a hypothesis and the present-day technology has not made it possible yet, there are numerous experiments going on, both on Earth and in space, to find out what organisms, plants and microbes can survive such conditions. Once it is known, they can be used as sources of food and nutrition in the future.

In one such experiment, which was going on for the past two years, scientists have found that some species of cyanobacteria and algae were successful in withstanding the harsh environmental conditions in space, Quartz reported.

The two-year-long experiment going on the International Space Station ended last year. It revealed that green algae and photosynthesizing bacteria were able to successfully survive for 450 days in outer space conditions. Furthermore, when they were shipped back to Earth, they resumed their normal growth processes.

The groundbreaking experiment was done under the Biology and Mars Experiment (BIOMEX) program, which is aimed towards understanding the basic changes in terrestrial life forms, which either enable them to survive in space or kill them. Several species of bacteria, lichens, algae, fungi and mosses were sent to the International Space station and were exposed to a varied range of temperatures, starting from -4°F (-20°C) and 116°F (47°C) and high-energy UV radiations.

The BIOMEX lab was sent back to Earth in June 2016 and the samples were further analyzed in detail. It was found that even after being exposed to such uninhabitable conditions, some of the test organisms, which included Sphaerocystis (an algal species), Nostoc (a cyanobacterial species isolated from the Antarctica), some bacteria and lichens as well as water bears (Tardigrades) can successfully survive and grow in outer space conditions, The Scientist reported.

Since algae and cyanobacteria are known to be rich sources of proteins, vitamins and mineral, it is highly likely that when astronauts go on the Earth to Mars journey, they may be growing and eating them. They can also roll them up over some preserved tuna fish and make sushi.

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