Heinz made ketchup from Semi-Martian tomatoes and we want to eat it – review geek

Heinz ketchup with fresh raw tomatoes in box on stone background.
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Space may be the last frontier, but it’s a great place to make ketchup. Astrobiologists simply grew tomatoes under Mars-like conditions (like here on Earth, not actually on Mars), and while the unique condiment isn’t for sale, just know that they passed the quality tests. by Heinz.

Why the hell do scientists grow space tomatoes, you might ask? This was done as part of an experiment conducted by researchers at the Aldrin Space Institute of the Florida Institute of Technology, who sought to test the viability of long-term food harvesting on Mars, as opposed to the growth of shorter-term plants. The experiment also gave researchers more information on whether the crop (or other similar plants) could be grown in harsher climates right here on Earth.

Researchers grew official Heinz tomato seeds in about 7,800 pounds of Mojave Desert soil, which resembles regolith (aka the loose rocky material that sits atop solid rock) on Mars. They limited the experience to water and weather conditions that were also similar to the Martian environment. While temperatures there average around -81 degrees Fahrenheit, they can vary wildly between -220 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the region and season.

According to samples captured by the Phoenix lander, Martian soil has a pH of 8.3, which is slightly alkaline. Tomatoes grow best in slightly more acidic soil, with a pH between 6.2 and 6.8. Despite this discrepancy, however, soil is still a match (and it always proved successful in this experiment) because of its nutrient richness; it contains nutrients essential for healthy plant growth such as magnesium, sodium, chlorine and potassium. The soil of the Mojave Desert is very similar to Martial soil chemically, which is why it was perfect for the experiment.

Surprisingly, this is not humanity’s first example of space farming, however. Crew members aboard the International Space Station recently cultivated chili peppers in the advanced plant habitat. Astronaut Megan McArthur shared the fruits of this labor on Twitter last month, with photos of the peppers on the space tacos the crew made. We bet they were delicious!

via popular science

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