Various reports say that the U.S. space agency, NASA, is thinking of ways to grow food on Mars. This is, in fact, a part of the much larger project to land human beings on the red planet by 2030.
The soil samples collected by NASA’s Mars rover show that being an arid desert, the ground will have to be tilled and cultivated to stand any chance of astronauts being able to grow even the simplest of food items there. The ability to grow various crops for survival is the basic requirement if the red planet is to support human settlement some day.
Actively engaged in research, NASA is still trying to decide if sustained human presence on Mars should be goal or not. Feeding people would definitely be the biggest challenge. Even though plants can grow in microgravity, there is no saying how certain crops will be affected by the reduced gravity on Mars. Also, the surface of Mars receives only half the sunlight that Earth does, and essential light would further be blocked by any pressurized greenhouse. All this implies for the theoretical Mars colony, supplement light will have to be added. Mars is bombarded quite frequently by small asteroids and bits of comets, which form craters. Without the Earth’s thick atmosphere, particles from space and radiation could potentially cause damage to both people and crops.
If the red planet is to ever be sustainably colonized, many such significant hurdles will have to be overcome.