After the peppers grown in the ISS enclosure, here are the first tomatoes harvested in Martian conditions.
It took two years of research for Heinz to present this week a very particular variation of its famous Tomato Ketchup. Officialized on November 8, this very limited edition series consists of the same ingredients as the original recipe, with one detail: the tomatoes used were grown in an atmosphere and soil mimicking the conditions of life on Mars. The result of a long-standing collaboration between the agri-food brand and a team from the Aldrin Institute of Technology in Florida, the project, called “Marz Edition” promises to offer a foretaste to those passionate about the conquest of space.
Unsurprisingly, this ketchup of the future will not be sold in stores. For the moment, no marketing is also planned, the product is still in the process of quality approval by the brand. However, and even if Marz Edition tomatoes will never see the red planet, this advance could make it possible to better anticipate the first manned trip to Mars: “So far, research (on Martian cultures) has focused on short-term studies. This project is the first to look at the possibility of cultivating plants in a sustainable way ”, reports Andrew Palmer, head of the Aldrin Institute team.
While Elon Musk plans to set foot on Mars in 2024, and this despite the postponement of the next lunar trip which will ultimately not take place before 2025 at the earliest, estimates NASA, knowing how to grow food on the red planet would be an undeniable advantage for the sustainability of a Martian colony.
Cultivated in “Martian conditions” what is it?
To carry out his experience with the air of a successful communication coup, Heinz thus cultivated his tomatoes in a regolith floor imitating that of the Martian surface. The company also took the experiment to reproduce the same temperature (- 63C ° on average), gravity (3.721 m / s²) and humidity conditions as on the red planet. Note that this is not the first time that scientists have taken an interest in Martian culture: in 2017, tests had already been carried out on potatoes, radishes, peas, rye and watercress.