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How likely could we successfully manage to grow (germinate) plants on Mars if we developed a mechanism (special seed bombs) that would spread seeds on Mars? Assume the scenario is Mars as we currently know it.

Taking into account the extreme weather plants (cacti, etc...) and even possible genetic modifications we could do to them.

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closed as too broad by a CVn, Pavel Janicek, James, bowlturner, clem steredenn May 20 '16 at 19:25

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    $\begingroup$ You'd still need a weather cycle or another way to get water to these plants. Does your scenario have something like that, if yes: how does it work? $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T May 20 '16 at 9:51
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    $\begingroup$ Either the most basic seed needs would come bundled (seed capsule) or specially bombarding mars poles where water is likely to exist. $\endgroup$ – Leonardo Marques May 20 '16 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ @LeonardoMarques - you're missing the point. Mars is one big wasteland/dessert. Sure, there's water at the poles, but it's frozen. How are you going to get water to these plants? How are you going to induce a water cycle? Basically, yes, you could "bombard" the planet with seeds, but no plant we know if could grow on Mars as it exists today. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 20 '16 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding Leonardo, as the others mentioned if you could specify your scenario a bit more (what is the atmosphere/temperature etc like) we can get this answered for you. $\endgroup$ – James May 20 '16 at 13:14
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There is water on Mars, possibly more than we realized, and in a liquid state.

But our plants would have a really hard time there for a few reasons:

  • High UV radiation, which kills cells.
  • Very salty soil. Salt is not good for plants.
  • Lower light. The amount of sunlight that reaches mars is quite a bit less than what earth receives. Throw in dust storms that last months and plants would in trouble.
  • Very cold. Average temperature on Mars is -67 F.
  • Thin atmosphere. While Mars atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, which would be ok for plants, it is very very thin. The atmospheric pressure on the Martian surface averages 600 pascals (6.0 mbar), about 0.6% of Earth's mean sea level pressure of 101.3 kilopascals (1,013 mbar). The atmospheric pressure at the top of Everest is about a third of sea level pressure (337 mbar).
  • Bad soil. What we call dirt is mostly alive, with a large mix of decomposed biological material, bacteria, etc. Mars soil is dead, and as such would have no nutrients or any of the other things that plants would need to grow there.

If you wanted to try this, you'd probably have to start with some kind of modified lichen, engineered to handle sub zero temperatures, low moisture, high salt content, low pressure, and that would be able to eat rocks.

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  • $\begingroup$ So GM Lichen that sounds like a good start :) $\endgroup$ – Leonardo Marques May 20 '16 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @LeonardoMarques yeah, especially if you could make a version that lives on and binds the super fine dust, which would cut down on dust storms, and if it had a way of breaking the bonds keeping the oxygen in the soil which is high in oxydized iron. Maybe it could build structures of salt, like a coral. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 May 20 '16 at 18:08

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