NASA looking to researchers at Utah State University to problem-solve farming on Mars

Apr 25, 2024, 6:30 PM | Updated: 6:47 pm

LOGAN — A group of researchers at Utah State University have been experimenting with farming methods to help NASA learn how to survive on Mars.

Professor Bruce Bugbee and PhD candidate Noah Langenfeld are part of the group conducting this research in a greenhouse that allows each element to be controlled.

“They can’t waste anything.” Bugbee said. “Every aspect, every drop of water has to be recycled.”

 In this greenhouse, they are meticulous about every drop of water while growing lettuce while wasting very little.

“We’ve gone up to two years, over 700 days, with the plants in the same exact nutrient solution,” Langenfeld said. “We just fill them up every couple days, top off what’s used by the plants.”

Realistically, farming on Mars would most likely happen underground. Theoretically, crops will be safe from the dangers of radiation and meteorites.

This is why the lab has areas to see how they can grow corn under artificial light from LEDs.

“The central question is how small and how efficient can we make this and still have it be stable?” Bugbee said. “If it’s too small, it’ll become unstable. Something goes out of whack, everyone dies.”

In another lab, they can control everything down to the gas composition inside. 

“Here on Earth, we end up wasting a lot of Nitrogen,” Langenfeld said. “About half of the nitrogen for agriculture ends up getting lost, either as a gas, or it leaches out and ends up becoming an environmental pollutant.”

All of these efforts are working to help answer the future question of survivability on Mars.

“Not only do we kind of get to help humanity kind of reach for those new frontiers, but all this research is really still applicable to the agriculture that we do on Earth,” Langenfeld said.

USU researchers are working along with four other universities to help NASA learn how to survive on Mars.  The space agency also just recognized all of them for their efforts with their group achievement award.

KSL 5 TV Live

Science & Technology

FILE - Boeing's Starliner capsule atop an Atlas V rocket is seen at Space Launch Complex 41 at the ...

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

Boeing’s 1st astronaut flight now set for June after a review of small leak on new capsule

Boeing is now aiming for its first astronaut launch at the beginning of June, after spending the past few weeks struggling with more problems on the space capsule.

2 days ago

A Bell 505 helicopter demonstrated the takeoff and landing capabilities that future air taxis will ...

Kiersten Nunez

A glimpse into the future of urban air travel with Utah’s first vertiport demonstration

An empty parking lot in Layton has been transformed into the stage for Utah’s first vertiport demonstration, offering a vision of the future of urban air travel.

7 days ago

Madison Police Department Mid Town District Capt. Jason Freedman and Det. Lindsey Ludden talk with ...

Associated Press

Bones found in 1989 in chimney identified as man who last contacted relatives in 1970

Authorities say human bones found inside the chimney of a Wisconsin music store in 1989 have been identified as those of a man whose last known contact with relatives was in 1970.

10 days ago

Visitors look at the skeleton of a gigantic Triceratops over 66 million years old, named "Big John,...

Katie Hunt, CNN

Mystery of warm-blooded dinosaurs could be unraveled by new study

Were dinosaurs warm-blooded like birds and mammals or cold-blooded like reptiles? It’s one of paleontology’s oldest questions. Here's what new research found.

12 days ago

A box full of donated eclipse glasses being inspected by Boy Scouts to help a local business owner ...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Utah eclipse glasses program calls for volunteers after overwhelming donation response

A Provo eclipse glasses donation program is asking for help to sort through hundreds of thousands of glasses people have been sending in from all over the country.

17 days ago

This image provided by NASA shows a solar flare, as seen in the bright flash in the lower right,  c...

Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer

Strong solar storm could disrupt communications and produce northern lights in US

An unusually strong solar storm headed toward Earth could produce northern lights in the U.S. and potentially disrupt power and communications this weekend.

17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

NASA looking to researchers at Utah State University to problem-solve farming on Mars