A company in California says it could be the first to grow food on Mars. That's a lofty goal, but Los Angeles-based Local Roots is not your average farm.
Local Roots has developed technology that can replicate any kind of climate inside a 12-meter repurposed shipping container – using special lights and nutrients.
"We're awarded the opportunity because we're in a controlled environment to grow food really anywhere whether that's on Earth, or whether off Earth on Mars, in the future," Brandon Martin of Local Roots said.
"People have been trying to control the environment around plants for a very long time. Outdoor farmers have been trying to do it with pesticides and chemicals and predicting weather patterns. This allows us the opportunity to embrace technology, incorporate technology with that same biology the same seed you would plant outdoors. We just create perfect weather for it inside," he added.
They've now teamed up with Space X, the company that's trying to put humans on Mars by perfecting a refuelable rocket with a plan for fueling the astronauts with food that they would normally eat on earth.
But the benefits of this new technology could extend beyond space. Traditional farming techniques require massive amounts of water. This process cuts that need for water by 97% and a potential game-changer for tackling hunger brought on by drought on Earth.
Local Roots is already selling its produce to some restaurants and large supermarket chains. With portable shipping containers, the potential for food sourced locally is an attractive draw for those in the food business.
"It's pretty exciting. For me as a chef it's what you want, to be able to have something fresh that you can pick right off the counter and utilize," Fermin Arias, the Chef at Tender Greens Restaurant.
Scientists agree there is no quick fix for people's need for food – whether it is here on Earth, where there is an abundance of water, or on Mars where there is not. But trying to find solutions to the world's food shortages may be key to the long-term success of expeditions to other planets.