Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/16/mars_farmers/

Life on Mars means subsisting on grim diet of turd-garden spinach

Space yokel shit-kickers needed to colonise Red Planet

By Jasper Hamill

Posted in Science, 16th May 2013 11:08 GMT

Farmers are often heard singing about their desire for a brand new combine harvester, but they might not even need one if they fancy going to Mars.

NASA bods have said the valuable skills of growing veggies and nurturing plantlife are vital to any Mars colonisation.

Indeed, according to a talk given at the Human 2 Mars conference - reported by Space.com - farming skills are absolutely crucial to the life chances of Martian settlers.

"One of the things that every gardener on the planet will know is producing food is hard — it is a non-trivial thing," Penelope Boston, director of the Cave and Karst Studies program at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology said. "Up until several hundred years ago it occupied most of us for most of the time."

Previous research has suggested that humans on other planets - and on longhaul space voyages - will be forced to subsist on a grim diet of hand-cultivated cabbage and greens grown largely in their own excrement.

The only Mars trip on offer right now is a one-way mission, but even so more than 1,000 people have applied to make the journey while being filmed for a reality television show. The Mars One plan is a private enterprise and organisers vaguely hope to have plonked their reality stars on the red planet by 2018.

Earthbound farmers are known to be at "high risk" of suicide, which might indicate that they're the sort to fancy going to Mars and never coming back to Earth.

NASA is hoping to send a squad of astronauts on a return journey to Mars by 2030, though there is presumably some risk of their ship being mobbed by disillusioned reality-TV farmers sick of turd-garden spinach. ®