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Help grow lettuce on Mars

Help grow lettuce on Mars
LettuceOnMars

The Red Planet could be getting a little greener in the future. In 2018, the MarsOne Lander will head for Mars and you get to help decide what it'll be carrying. There's a competition going on right now to see what'll take up some of the space on the Lander - and lettuce is one of the ten finalists.

Well, it's more than just lettuce. The #LettuceOnMars proposed payload includes an entire growth chamber that will try and grow lettuce seeds on Mars using carbon dioxide from the planet's atmosphere and some water from Earth.

A technical review round trimmed down the applicant list from 35 to 10. Now, the 10 finalists have to garner support on social media to win the contest.

The lettuce seeds will be frozen during the 7 month trip to Mars. When the MarsOne Lander settles on the Red Planet, heaters in the chamber will maintain a constant temperature so the growing process can begin.

Carbon Dioxide will be heated and pressurised from the Martian atmosphere. Oxygen will be produced by electrolysis of water brought from Earth. Some water with dissolved nutrients will be vaporised in the growth chamber.

The plants will use sunlight and light from LEDs for photosynthesis, and there will be cameras and sensors in the greenhouse to send information back to Earth. The project's creators expect the lettuce to take 4 weeks to grow.

Want to taste Mars-grown lettuce? Not so fast. Once the lettuce is grown, the heaters will heat up and destroy everything in the chamber to prevent contamination.

The project is trying to gain support on social media in order to win the competition. You can vote on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the MarsOne website. Visit the #LettuceOnMars website to learn more about voting.

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