Fake Martian Dirt: $20/kg + shipping

#1
https://phys.org/news/2018-09-ucf-experi...ogram.html

It comes from the University of Central Florida and it's for real. It was formulated to be as close as possible to the chemical composition of Martian dirt, as determined by the Mars landers.

They are selling it since they figure that it's easier for other laboratories to buy it than make it for themselves. NASA was involved in formulating it.

They use it for experiments, such as determining which Earth plants can grow in Martian soil. They have also determined that earthworms can reproduce in it. (Both the plants and the worms would require an Earth atmosphere in a pressurized greenhouse thing.)

https://phys.org/news/2017-11-earthworms...ulant.html

But speaking of earthworms, what would they eat in Martian dirt? They normally live in Earth soil that's rich in organic materials, rotting plant debris and stuff like that. But Martian soil would presumably be sterile.

So if earthworms are to live in it, the soil would have to be fertilized with nutrients that the worms can use.
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#2
Do we know for certain that Mars is not covered in fake Earth dirt? Angel  Can we send Mars some fake plants?

 I've never read a story that suggested Martians made the surface of Mars look Earthlike in order to attract future Earth space travelers to the planet. They need us for some nefarious cause no doubt.  Big Grin
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#3
(Sep 30, 2018 05:07 AM)Yazata Wrote: [...] But speaking of earthworms, what would they eat in Martian dirt? They normally live in Earth soil that's rich in organic materials, rotting plant debris and stuff like that. But Martian soil would presumably be sterile.

So if earthworms are to live in it, the soil would have to be fertilized with nutrients that the worms can use.


The faux soil doesn't yet simulate ingredients like perchlorates that are detrimental to human health. Even most earthworms don't survive well when those are present, though plants and microorganisms seem to grow despite such.

The pig manure used as fertilizer in the Earth version would supposedly be replaced by the feces of explorers and colonists on Mars, which brings to mind the results of that practice in North Korea. Of course, the human slurry would be sterilized in terms of anthropophilic parasites and bacteria along with the rest, but that constant disinfection would be an impossibly high standard to maintain before something escaped into the Martian non-ecosystem. Insulated space stations and quickie excursions on the Moon would pale in comparison to the vastly extended stays and outright residence on the Red Planet which statistically would invite inevitable disaster in terms of contamination.

There are practical, scientific reasons for wanting avoid to interplanetary contamination -- not just the moral prescription hoopla of an ideological correctness / sacredness. But given the ever-increasingly discovered tenacity and resourcefulness of microscopic life, I probably agree with this astrobiologist that it's an otiose and futile concern, anyway. In that exposure has either already happened or will most certainly become the case in the future despite safeguards.

~
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