The crew of the International Space Station recently took delivery of a case of wine. A dozen bottles of delicious red wine have traveled from Earth to the atmosphere and found themselves in the orbiting laboratory where six scientists have to let it sit for a year before sending it back. They can not drink it, which is disappointing, but the experiment aims to show how spatial radiation and low gravity could change the composition and flavor of the wine.
It made me think: Who will be the first human to eat a vegetable grown on the surface of another world?
Imagine being the first human to discover the existence of eggplants. The earliest documentation of eggplant dates back several centuries and it is not known whether it was first created in Africa or India, but it is equally likely. But what about the first person who decided to take a bite, or any other wild vegetable?
Did they see it, did they think it looked delicious and plunged into it? Did they observe animals while eating and did they assume it was safe? Did a village of ancient peoples vote to decide who would be the guinea pig? We probably do not know and probably will not, but as we explore our solar system and send crewed missions to Mars and perhaps beyond, these brave travelers will need food and it makes sense to do so. push on the spot, if possible.
Scientists on Earth have been experimenting with analogues of Martian soil to determine what might be going on there. including the potato and it is quite possible for us to grow crops somewhere else than on Earth. It's exciting, but as with the wine experience, we do not really know how a Mars potato can be different from a potato.
The surface of Mars is bombarded with much more radiation than we have to deal with here. on earth. This results from Mars' loss of much of its atmosphere and a much weaker magnetic field. If we grow potatoes on the surface, even inside a heated glass dome where we can control many variables, we have no idea of the possible reaction of the plant or the difference in production. vegetables that it produces.
even sponsored research to genetically modify plants before they are sent to the red planet, in the hope of making them more compatible with the conditions in which they will eventually be forced to grow. The researchers hope that is a step forward towards crops adapted to the planet Mars that can grow from generation to generation.
If we look further into the future - and make some totally unjustified assumptions about our ability to discover and then travel to exoplanets where life is already flourishing - The issue of food becomes even more complex. In a hypothetical future where a human mission lands in a foreign world already populated with unique plants and animals, what do we eat?
Such a future presupposes incredible technological progress, and perhaps a glance at using a magic pocket-sized device could warn travelers in the far space of the dangers of a poisonous plant that they have never seen before. But even then, if science tells you that this strange blue tomato in your hand is safe, would you be ready to take the first bite of a truly alien vegetable?
This article appeared first (in English) on BGR