PLANTS cultivated by Killaloe scientist Dr Tracey Larkin and her team at the LIT CELLS research group are destined for life on Mars after a stint in Antartica.
They will arrive in Antartica in the coming weeks to be tested in extreme temperatures that replicate those of the red planet.
A state-of-the-art plant cultivation facility known as the EDEN-ISS Future Exploration Greenhouse will house the growing plants and will be located beside Neumayer-Station III.
LIT is part of the EDEN ISS consortium, who have been tasked with developing the technologies the will allow for sustainable food production facilities on the Moon and on Mars.
Michelle McKeon Bennett is the Head of Department of Applied Science at LIT, founder of the CELLS Research Group and Principal Investigator of the LIT workpackages of the four year EDEN ISS project, which extends from March 2015 to December 2018.
“We were tasked with ensuring the plants grow and thrive in space, and in other environments with limited resources. We have also worked to ensure that the food produced in the EDEN ISS project is of high organoleptic and nutritional quality and is safe to consume by explorers, astronauts and eventually space colonists,” she said.