"The Martian" book written by Andy Weir depicts an astronaut left behind on Mars after an accident. Astronaut Mark Watney planted potatoes on Mars to feed himself as it might take years before the next human Mars mission. However, scientists said that planting on the Red Planet is impossible due to harsher radiation exposure than that experienced on Earth. 

 Growing Plants on Mars Would Be Impossible Due to Cosmic Radiation Exposure Rather Than the Soil
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
NASA artist's conception of a human mission to Mars (painting).

Mars: Only Habitable Planet in Solar System Next to Earth

Mars is also known as the Red Planet, with a harsh environment that is impossible to host life. According to an article in the American Chemical Society (ACS), scientists have been studying Mars for many decades now since the early 1960s, but they have not sent a manned mission to scour the surface of the Red Planet.

For now, space agencies have only sent small spacecraft and rovers to orbit that flew by then landed on Mars. Their missions are to study the composition of the Red Planet and discover whether they once hosted life after gathering evidence that water once existed on the barren planet.

However, the atmosphere of Mars is 95% carbon dioxide, making breathing difficult for humans. Also, it is colder than Earth, with a temperature of -81 degrees Fahrenheit as it is farther from the Sun.

Despite its harsh environment, the article in ACS suggests that Mars appears to be the most habitable planet in the Solar System next to Earth. Scientists have used some places on Earth to study Mars since they have conditions similar to the Red Planet. These places include some parts of Antarctica, Hawaii, and South America.

Mars' harsh condition will inhibit the growth of plants and would likely kill animals and humans that would live there. Nevertheless, the orbiters and rovers sent to Mars will gather information to help the future human mission to Mars in the following decades. 

ALSO READ: Mars Dune Alpha Simulates Living on Red Planet: What Is Inside the 3D-Printed Habitat in Johnson Space Center?

Mars Radiation Exposure 17 Times Harsher Than Earth's

The Earth is lucky to have its magnetic field to protect it from the harsh radiation from the Sun. However, Mars does not have a magnetic field that will block cosmic and solar radiation, and it only has a thin atmosphere.

Social Post reported that radiation exposure on Mars averages 233 micrograms per day, equivalent to 17 times the highest radiation exposure that Earth could experience. Moreover, a solar storm on Mars could be 50 times harsher than what would be experienced on Earth.

Furthermore, NASA scientists found that radiation exposure is more likely to cause plants to not grow on the Red Planet rather than the Martian soil.

A team of researchers experimented with planting vegetables and herbs on Mars-like soil using the volcanic sand from Hawaii. They were able to harvest crops although it was contaminated with heavy metals.

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Check out more news and information on Mars Mission in Science Times.