On Growing Coffee on Mars

Many have said, they will “literally die” without coffee.  I don’t believe there will be many deaths from lack of coffee, but human intelligence and humans would suffer.  First, with coping with the new planet, Mars.  Second, with their enjoyment of life.  It would not be the same if the first couple of generations on Mars did not have the ability to grow quality coffee, or as in the video below (“Coffee on Mars”),  get out of the Martian dust and go for a cup of Joe at the local barista…


First, the very bad news.  As of today, regolith simulant MMS-1, the first simulation of Martian soil, does not support the growth of coffee.  Work moves ahead on a closer match to actual Martian soil, MMS-2 (93% match), but it is yet to be tested for coffee-growth.  We will not let this regolith be fallow for long!

Then, the unswerving optimism of Dr. Michiko Kaku, in the video interview below…

  • Dr. Michio Kaku: “Yes. In principle, anything that could be grown on the earth can be modified slightly to grow in the environment of Mars, which is colder than the earth but still has plenty of carbon dioxide.  Plants love carbon dioxide.  So yes, you could have coffee on Mars.”

 

Well, Mars does not have “plenty of carbon dioxide.” It’s atmosphere mainly is carbon dioxide, but the pressure is ~10 torr, not 760 torr (Earth’s atmospheric pressure near the surface of coffee plants).  Human exhalation might still be necessary for proper growth.

But what about the soil and nutrients?  There are two primary varieties of regolith simulant worth discussing, MMS-2 and MGS-1.

MMS-2, the “Mojave Mars Simulant” is nearly a 93% chemical match to Martian soil  found over the surface probed by the Mars Phoenix probe.

Screen Shot 2019-02-20 at 4.45.31 PM“In 2007, Scientists at the JPL created Mojave Mars Simulant to help develop the Mars Phoenix Lander. Since then, Mojave Mars Simulant (MMS) has been used to develop new Mars missions and simulate the Martian surface in research programs around the world. MMS is also in the classroom, where it’s not only empowering students to work with cutting-edge research materials – it’s also helping to promote STEM engagement.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-20 at 4.46.29 PM



 

MGS-1, the “Martian Global Simulant” is created by the Exolith at the University of Central Florida’s Planetary Sciences Group and created based on both the chemical composition of actual sample taken by Mars Curiosity and analyzed on the Martina surface, and the size gradation of the samples taken on Mars.

The a prototype of the MGS-1 regolith simulant and the 4cm wide sample scrape on Mars analyzed by Mars Curiosity.

The chemical composition of the MGS-1 as seen above.


 

In the near future, we will try to grow 2 varieties of coffee plants under various conditions of atmosphere and moisture content in both regolith simulants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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