A self-contained greenhouse has been selected to fly on the robotic lander that Red Planet colonization effort Mars One intends to launch in 2018.
The greenhouse experiment, called Seed, was one of 35 proposed lander science payloads submitted by university groups from all over the world.
The Seed team won the contest on the best designs for experiments on Mars organized by Dutch non-profit Mars One.
Mars One said the Seed aims to germinate the first seed on the red planet to contribute to the development of life support systems and provide a deeper understanding of plant growth on Mars.
The payload will consist of an interior container, which will hold several seed cassettes, and external container, which provides protection from the harsh environment.
The seeds will stem from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which is commonly used in space plant studies. After landing, the seeds inside the cassette will be provided with conditions for germination and seedling growth. The growth will then be recorded using images transmitted back to Earth.
Seed consists of two PhD students from MIT Portugal and the University of Madrid and four bioengineering students from the University of Porto.
Mars One said an in-depth technical analysis of the winning proposal will be conducted to ensure that the winner has a feasible plan and that their payload can be integrated on the 2018 Mars lander.
If Seed runs into any issues regarding feasibility or cannot stick to the schedule, Mars One will fall back on the runner ups of the university competition. The second and third placed projects are Cyano Knights and Lettuce on Mars.