Portuguese team gets to send first living organisms to MarsPublished On: Tue, Jan 6th, 2015 | Mars | By BioNews
Portuguese team Seed has won the Mars One competition and the right to send the first living organisms to Mars, the Mars One Dutch non-profit foundation said Tuesday.
The Seed team, mainly made up of young scientists from the northern Portuguese city of Porto, 300 km north of capital Lisbon, won the competition based on an online public vote that ended Dec 31, 2014. Seed was one of 35 teams in the running.
Seed’s proposed experiment, to germinate seeds, will be sent to Mars on the Mars One Lander mission in 2018 on a 10-month voyage. The experiment is intended to prove that it is possible to sustain life on Mars in a controlled environment.
The best model plant is Arabidopsis thaliana and it is commonly used in space plant studies aboard the ISS. The team also considers the selection of nitrogen fixators such as Medicago truncatula. Other plants with agronomic value include Brassica rapa and rucola (used in the Dutch Soyuz mission DELTA).
Seeds will be transported to Mars glued to a filter inside the cassette. After activation of the Lander, the cassette will be heated and growth medium will be injected on the filter, providing the conditions for germination and seedling growth. Growth will be recorded using photographs and images will be transmitted via orbiter from Mars to Earth. During the photograph periods, low consumption LEDs and an anti-fog resistance must be activated. At the end of the experiment, seedling growth will be terminated by deactivating the localized temperature system.
“We are really pleased to be the selected project among so many excellent ideas. We are thrilled to be the first to send life to Mars! This will be a great journey that we hope to share with you all!” said Teresa Araújo, Seed team member.
US space agency NASA also has plans to send plants to the planet, but the Mars One voyage is expected to do so two years or more beforehand.
“It’s an excellent and a unique opportunity, as it will be the first time life has been taken to Mars, but also, because of that, the responsibility and concern is greater,” Daniel Carvalho, one of the scientists who designed the project.