Recent research seems to indicate that future Martian astronauts might be able to grow their own food with the help of alfalfa, as this herb contains the growth hormone (triacontanol) that stimulates plant roots' growth.
The research has been made possible with the help of a 19-year-old Indian, Pooja Kasiviswanathan. She was just 15 years old when she began her research on developing a food system on Mars. Another senior Indian-origin scientist, Dr. Vijayapalani Paramasivan, backed this research at Iowa State University.
Part of the research explored how turnips grow in simulated Martian soil. This 'Martian soil' was derived from volcanoes known as basaltic regolith soil because Martian soil is mostly made up of volcanic rock basalt, low in nutrients, and is bad at holding water due to lack of organic carbon. The simulated Martian soil was compared with the regular garden soil, which has more nutrients and other essential properties.
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