Thursday, December 7, 2017

Earthworms Born in Simulated Mars Soil

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


Image Credit: Credit: Wageningen University and Research Centre
Image Credit: Wageningen University and Research Centre
 In a new study that could have extensive implications for future Mars colonies, two healthy baby earthworms were recently born in simulated Martian soil.
 The experiment, headed by Wieger Wamelink, a biologist at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, was aimed at investigating plant growth in a mixture of NASA-made Martian soil simulants. The compound, made of volcanic terrestrial rock and pig manure, was added with live adults worms. This study marked the first time infant worms were born in a Mars soil simulant.
 Since Mars is not a naturally habitable environment for life as we know it, a human colony set up on Mars would have to establish a closed ecosystem (such as the one above) to survive. This closed ecosystem would ideally use available waste materials, including human excrement and dead organic matter, to function.
 The research also found that the holes that the worms dug into the soil helped to aerate the simulant mixture and improved the soil's structure. This allowed for water to penetrate the soil more easily and to nourish the plants.

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