LIFE ON MARS – Here on Earth: Worms could provide key to humans living on Red Planet | Science | News

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Experts at NASA produced a soil which would be identical to that found on Mars and wanted to see if Earth’s critters could survive in the dusty soil.

Wieger Wamelink, a biologist at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, has been running plant growth experiments in a mixture of NASA-made Martian soil –which are made from volcanic rocks here on Earth – and pig manure and added adult worms.

He found the worms gave birth and the infant worms are doing well.

The research shows the Martian soil may not be as inhabitable as previously thought, opening the possibility of finding microbial life on Mars and increasing humanity’s suitability of settling there one day.

Mr Wamelink said: “Clearly the manure stimulated growth, especially in the Mars soil simulant, and we saw that the worms were active. 

“However, the best surprise came at the end of the experiment when we found two young worms in the Mars soil simulant.”

The university said in a statement said: “To feed future humans on Mars a sustainable closed agricultural ecosystem is a necessity. 

“Worms will play a crucial role in this system as they break down and recycle dead organic matter.

“Worms are very important for a healthy soil, not only on Earth but also in future indoor gardens on Mars or the moon. 

“They thrive on dead organic matter such as old plant remains, which they eat, chew and mix with soil before they excrete it.”

NASA has previously said that it aims to get the first humans to Mars somewhere between 2030 and 2040.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has the financial clout to reach Earth’s next door neighbour and is aiming to get people to the Red Planet by around 2030, with the first people there being tasked with beginning to build a new civilisation.

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