Food pods and vertical farming could help us grow crops on Mars

CNN  — 

Even before we reached the moon, humans had been making plans to send people to Mars, and in recent years, the dream has looked closer to becoming reality. NASA plans to have boots on the red planet in the 2030s, while Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to get there even sooner.

The difficulty isn’t solely getting astronauts to Mars but also sustaining them once they’re there; you can’t simply grow potatoes in its soil – despite what Matt Damon would have you believe in the movie “The Martian.”

With an atmosphere 100 times thinner than Earth’s, only half the amount of sunlight, no known accessible fresh water, and average temperatures of -81 degrees Fahrenheit, Mars is the most challenging environment in which humans have ever planned to produce food.

A startup called Interstellar Lab believes it may have the solution. The Paris and Los Angeles-based company has designed a controlled-environment capsule system that could one day allow crops to be grown in space.