Slovak astrobiologist member of simulated Mars mission

Astrobiologist Michaela Musilová's task was to grow plants for the crew in specific conditions.

Slovak astrobiologist Michaela Musilová Slovak astrobiologist Michaela Musilová (Source: TASR)

Non-profit organisation The Mars Society chose Slovak astrobiologist Michaela Musilová for a three-week simulated mission to Mars in a Utah desert recently, the TASR newswire reported on April 21.

Musilová said at Trenčín Robots Days on same day that she offered the Society her project of fertilising soil on the planet Mars through the use of organisms living in extreme conditions and this organisation,in collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency, (ESA) recruited her to the team.

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„In a remote part of the desert, they built a cylinder-shaped station with a diameter of about eight meters where six people had to co-exist,” Musilová said, as quoted by TASR. “Moreover, there was a robot and a cameraman who monitored our stay. We had a limited amount of water, electricity, and food, and we had to live totally isolated from the world.”

She added that the conditions were close to those on Mars - the desert had similar red sand and the mission took place in winter in low temperatures.

Musilová was a member of a six-member simulated expedition and her task was to grow plants for the crew in specific conditions and experiment with microorganisms capable of fertilising soil.

“In my experiment I was mixing Martian soil with extreme microorganisms and I found out that under specific conditions, as well as Martian conditions, these microbes can fertilise soil,” Musilová said, as quoted by TASR. “Thus, theoretically, they could be used to fertilise soil on the Red Planet.”

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Musilová studied Planetary Science and Astrobiology in England and later in the United States, where she received a scholarship and worked for NASA.

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