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The first step to growing food on Mars

This is the plant that researchers will try to grow on Mars.

Growing anything on Mars seems next to impossible. It's rocky, cold and apparently lifeless. As part of the Mars One project, which plans to send people to live there beginning in 2024, university students from Spain and Portugal will test Mars' ability to grow food beginning in 2018.

Miguel Ferreira and other students won the university competition to take part. In a Skype interview with WVXU, he described the payload. "The seeds will be glued to a membrane, so we are not using Martian soil or Earth soil. When the water touches the seeds it will trigger the germination...we will record everything with pictures that will be sent back to earth."

The water will be frozen until it gets to Mars and then thawed. The plants being used are the most common ones for biological experiments. Arabidopsis thaliana has already been grown in space at the International Space Station.

Ferreira says agriculture will be important if we colonize Mars because the plants will provide oxygen and food.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.