Our study on growing edible plants in a simulated Martian regolith is out today in PLoS One! Alfalfa grew well, and its compost enhanced the growth of turnip, radish, and lettuce. Nicer fertilizer than what Matt Damon used in the Martian?
I finally saw the Martian this week because reporters kept asking me what I thought of it. It’s pretty cool. Lead author Pooja Kasiviswanathan gave much better interviews than I did, as evidenced by this nice write-up in Forbes.
But I think the most exciting aspect is that Pooja started this project as a sophomore in high school! She won several science fairs and worked with a group of interdisciplinary scientists at Iowa State. She is now a junior studying Microbiology.
Pooja also biodesalinated briny water with microbes and filtering through the simulated regolith, which improved plant growth. The famous quote from the Martian applies well to Pooja’s work: “I’m going to have to science the s#!+ out of this!”