Chinese Scientists Discover The Plant That Could Survive On Mars – NDTV

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The team built a system with Martian-like pressures, temperatures and gasses.

A team of scientists have discovered a plant that could possibly be able to survive and grow in the harsh climate of Mars, as per a report in the Guardian. The desert moss, which is found in Antarctica and the Mojave desert, might become pivotal to establishing life on the red planet.

Scientifically named Syntrichia caninervis, the plant can handle extreme cold, extreme radiation levels and drought. The team claims that its research, which focuses on the possibility of cultivating plants on the planet’s surface as opposed to in greenhouses, is the first to examine the survival of entire plants in such an environment.

They said, “The unique insights obtained in our study lay the foundation for outer space colonisation using naturally selected plants adapted to extreme stress conditions.”

“Our study shows that the environmental resilience of S. caninervis is superior to that of some of highly stress-tolerant microorganisms and tardigrades. S. caninervis is a promising candidate pioneer plant for colonizing extraterrestrial environments, laying the foundation for building biologically sustainable human habitats beyond Earth,” the team added.

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The study has been published in a new paper in the journal ‘The Innovation’. The researchers have documented how desert moss not only survived but also quickly recovered from near-total dehydration. Additionally, it was able to regenerate under normal growth conditions after being exposed to gamma rays for up to 30 days at -196 Celsius and up to five years at -80 Celsius. Doses of about 500Gy even stimulated new growth after exposure to gamma rays.

Next, the team built a system with Martian-like pressures, temperatures, gasses, and UV radiation. Even after seven days of exposure, it was discovered that the moss could still thrive in this Mars-like habitat and could regrow under typical growth conditions. The group also observed that plants that had been dried before to this treatment fared better.

“S. caninervis represents a promising candidate as a colonist to facilitate terra-forming efforts on Mars or other planets. This is not only because S. caninervis is a land plant with extreme multiple stress tolerance but also because it could serve as a pioneer species and the basis for the establishment and maintenance of the ecosystem by contributing to oxygen production, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility,” the researchers said.

They continued, “Thus, S. caninervis can help drive the atmospheric, geological, and ecological processes required for other higher plants and animals while facilitating the creation of new habitable environments conducive to long-term human settlement.”

The Chinese researchers concluded, “Although there is still a long way to go to create self-sufficient habitats on other planets, we demonstrated the great potential of S. caninervis as a pioneer plant for growth on Mars. Looking to the future, we expect that this promising moss could be brought to Mars or the Moon to further test the possibility of plant colonization and growth in outer space.”

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