As we should know by now, anything is possible on Mars. After all, we just recently discovered it snows there. In an unusual turn of events, researchers saw the birth of two earthworms living in sterile soil, made to simulate conditions on Mars.
“[Worms] grab organic matter from the top of the soil—eat it, chew it—and when they poo it out, bacteria can break it down further. Otherwise [without worms] you deplete the nutrients in the soil,” [Dutch biologist] Wamelink explains.
Trent Smith, who works on replicating Mars conditions, claims that the simulated soil is relatively accurate. However, the substance still lacks perchlorates, which is probably why the wigglers managed to reproduce.
To both Wamelink and Smith, figuring out a natural process to remove perchlorate from Martian soil remains the largest hurdle in the way of growing a sustainable agricultural system on the planet.
With much to remedy, NASA’s Veggie program has its hands full. But the space magicians never fail to surprise and hope, after worms, to bring in bumblebees.