Chinese Study: Desert Moss Shows Potential for Martian Colonization

A study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences has discovered a remarkably resilient desert moss species in Xinjiang, China’s western region. This moss, known as Syntrichia Caninervis, has shown an impressive ability to withstand extreme conditions, making it a potential key player in the future of Martian colonies.

The study, published in The Innovation journal, reveals that the moss thrived when subjected to conditions mimicking the Martian environment. It demonstrated a remarkable tolerance to extreme dryness, ultra-low temperatures, and radiation.

The researchers believe that this resilient moss could be instrumental in establishing and maintaining a sustainable ecosystem on Mars. Its potential contributions include oxygen production, carbon sequestration, and soil enrichment.

“(It) can help drive the atmospheric, geological, and ecological processes required for plants and animals while facilitating the creation of new habitable environments conducive to long-term human settlement,” the paper highlights.

The study further revealed that even after losing a significant 98% of its cellular water content, the moss remarkably recovered its photosynthetic and physiological functions within seconds after being rehydrated.

When intact, this remarkable plant can withstand ultra-low temperatures and remarkably regenerate after being stored at minus 112 Fahrenheit for five years or in liquid nitrogen for a month.

Syntrichia Caninervis is found not only in Xinjiang and Tibet, but also in a Californian desert, the Middle East, and polar regions.

The growing ambition to establish a human presence in space has fueled both China and the United States to embark on ambitious exploration plans in recent years.

China’s space program includes the launch of the near-Earth asteroid probe Tianwen-2 next year, followed by the Tianwen-3 mission in 2030 to retrieve samples from Mars. Just last month, China successfully retrieved samples from the Moon.

In the United States, NASA has outlined a 20-year plan for Mars, focused on investigating the red planet’s potential for human habitation.