Is There Livestock on Mars?

Adam Dexter working on a ranch in Texas USA.

15 January 2018

The answer is there could potentially be life on Mars in the future, in the form of livestock according to MSc graduate Adam Dexter.

Whilst the search for evidence of any life on Mars continues, Adam investigated whether livestock could be sustained on Mars for his MSc in Animal Sciences from Aberystwyth University’s IBERS (Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences).  

By mimicking the soil composition on Mars using specifically sourced mineral bentonite clay from the South of England; and then running parallel experiments in real Welsh soil, Adam planted groups of both rye and ryegrass crops.

The groups of plants were then subjected to varying levels of water and fertilizer in controlled conditions in growth chambers at the university.

Overall the rye suffered from various diseases and deficiencies during the trial, whilst the ryegrass performed better.

Both crops did much better in real Welsh soil, but they did actually grow in the pseudo Martian soil with sufficient yields making it feasible to raise small numbers of livestock.

Adam said “I studied in Physics at Bath University, but during my time there I spent my summers working on a cattle ranch in Texas and this awoke my interest in agriculture, also working on dairy and sheep farms here in the UK.  This inspired me to do my MSc at Aberystwyth.

The experiment was fascinating to do and proves that one day there is potential to sustain livestock on Mars.”