Scientists say crops can be grown on Mars

A team of scientists connected with a group attempting to colonize Mars claims that they have proven that crops can be grown on the Red Planet.

Mars One hopes to establish a colony on Mars by 2025.  It would be a one-way mission for the crew.

The group says ecologists at Wageningen University & Research have been experimenting with growing crops on Mars soil simulant since 2013.

The Mars One supported research group managed to grow ten different crops. One remaining uncertainty was that heavy metals such as cadmium, copper and lead, which are present in the soils, could contaminate the crops.

If too high levels of heavy metals from the soil are absorbed in the edible parts of the plants, the crops become poisonous. The researchers have now tested four of the ten grown crops for heavy metals and claims that no dangerous levels of heavy metals were found.  The group says that means that all four crops would be safe to eat.

The mission has its share of critics, starting with the process of selecting astronauts, which it hopes to turn into a reality TV show.

Then there is the question of survival.

Dr. Michael Shara of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History said from intense radiation to bitter cold temperatures, even the most basic things like food, water, and energy are extremely difficult to recreate on Mars.

An MIT study of Mars One's plans found astronauts would begin dying within 68 days of landing because of issues with growing crops. Critics also say the project is drastically underestimating costs.

Space expert Neil DeGrasse Tyson said he is skeptical because he is not convinced that the technology is ready and available to carry out the mission cheaply enough in Mars One's time frame.

But Mars One CEO Bas Landsdorp is used to defending his vision. He said humanity is about pushing boundaries, and this is the next one to push.