Portuguese university team wins international contest to take life to Mars

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    Portuguese university team Seed recently won the Mars One contest and earned the right to send the first living creatures to planet Mars, in this case plant seeds. The results were published on Monday, January 5, by the Dutch foundation Mars One.

    The team, formed in its majority by young scientists from the Porto area, won by public vote online, beating nine other competitors from different nationalities. Now, the team has the opportunity to prove that it is possible to maintain life on Mars through the germination of plants under controlled conditions.

    “This is great and it is a unique opportunity, because this will be the first time life will be taken to Mars”, Daniel Carvalho, one of the participants in the project told news agency Lusa.

    The Portuguese team’s experience will be sent on Mars One mission Lander, in 2018. The trip to Mars will last 10 months and it predates by at least two years NASA’s project to send plants to that planet, under the project Mars Plant Experiment (MPX).

    The project’s idea consists in sending frozen seeds to Mars.

    “After landing in Mars, the system will be activated, and the seeds will receive both energy and water so they can germinate. The plant growing process will be monitored by photos sent to Earth via satellite”, explained 20 year old researcher Carvalho.

    The Portuguese team also included a Dutch and a Spaniard, and it had the strategic support of Portuguese and foreign entities and researchers specialized in different areas. Researcher Carvalho opined that the results obtained from the project may “contribute to the development of life support systems for future space missions based on the production of oxygen and nourishment by way of plants.”

    The Mars One contest, a Dutch foundation that aims to establish the first human base in Mars before 2030, was open at the end of last August and had the participation of 35 university teams.