A team of scientists working with NASA is now attempting to make that science fiction into a science fact. The space agency is working with the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru to grow taters in conditions as similar to the surface of the Red Planet as possible.
They will cultivate a hundred selected varieties already subjected to rigorous evaluation in extreme, Mars-like conditions that could eventually pave the way to building a dome on the Red Planet for farming the vegetable. The selection was made from a total of 4,500 varieties registered at CIP, a nonprofit research facility that aims to reduce poverty and achieve food security.
Of the selected candidates, 40 are native to the Andes Mountains, conditioned to grow in different ecological zones, withstand sudden climate changes and reproduce in rocky, arid terrain.
The other 60 are genetically modified varieties able to survive with little water and salt. They are also immune to viruses. Those that pass the tests must meet a final criterion — they must be able not only to grow well but also reproduce in large quantities.