Canadian LED Researcher Dreams of Growing Strawberries on Mars

An ambitious Canadian researcher hopes to be able to plant strawberries and cherry tomatoes on the moon or other planets in the near future, according to a CBC report.

Mike Dixon, a University of Guelph professor and director of its Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, believes it will be possible for humans to grow plants on the moon surface within two decades.

The environmental biologist’s research team is probing into the ideal LED light wavelengths including blue, violet, and amber to make plants more productive, and hopefully bring the agricultural method to outer space soon.

In the next few centuries, humans will “march around on Mars and explore Mars on a large scale,” the report quoted Dixon saying.

For exploration on Mars, a steady food source will be required. To achieve this there needs to be a “significant environment control systems and life support systems based on plant biology,” said Dixon.

Still there will be plenty of science and government research funding hurdles to overcome before Dixon can grow any tomato or strawberry in a climate controlled lab on another planet.

"The Canadian Space Agency limps along on a budget that wouldn't change the tires on the space shuttle, so it's quite remarkable they achieve what they do," said Dixon.

The space agency’s core budget has decreased over the last 10 years falling from CA $325.8 million (US $303.77 million) in 2001-02 to CA $285.8 million for 2012-13, according to a 2012 report commissioned by the Canadian federal government.

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