Earthworms can thrive and reproduce in Martian soil simulants
If humans are ever going to colonize Mars – which we will, if NASA and Elon Musk have their way – then we need to make sure we can grow food locally. Now a team from Wageningen University & Research has found that earthworms might soon need a name change: the creatures, a crucial part of making soil fertile, can thrive and reproduce in simulated Martian soil.
The red dust that covers the surface of Mars is so barren and dry that scientists are hesitant to call it "soil" at all: the word implies the presence of organic matter from plants and animals. Without that, the Martian regolith is mostly dust and rock that won't be much use to future farmers without some prior treatment.