Project To Build Robot Garden On Mars Hits Kickstarter (VIDEO)

A team of astrobiologists has launched a Kickstarter to build a concept garden tended by robots ahead of its deployment on a - purely hypothetical - mission to Mars.

The 'Astro Gardening' project by Louisa Preston and Vanessa Harden is seeking £10,000 to develop the exhibit.

The project is conceived as a way to illustrate the need to find ways to grow food on Mars.

The exhibit would be a method of educating the public about plant life that could grow on Mars, and to "meet the world's first AstroGardening Rover".

The rover will be designed to plant 'seed pills' - essentially capsules made of clay, compost and seeds that can kick-start a garden, virtually automatically.

Its makers say:

"Our aim for this exhibit is to communicate the science behind future human habitation of Mars, the effect we as humans can have on an environment, and the ethics and logistics of colonising other planets.

Through child-friendly, and adult-friendly, interactive areas we have designed a Martian landscape you can walk across, study and name your own Martian plants, learn how we will use the very rock and ice on Mars to garden, and hopefully you can give our rover his new name!

The exhibit has already been invited to tour around some of London's most celebrated and beautiful venues such as observatories and planetariums, museums and art galleries, schools and universities, before heading across the ocean to the US and Canada."

Preston has written an interesting blog over at Universe Today about the project, and some of the (many) challenges that would be faced by any attempt to grow plants on Mars. Given the rough conditions, barren land and lack of natural water, any successful experiment would have to be an essentially self-contained pod that maximises sunlight and projects vegetation from the elements - including radiation.

Backers of the project will be rewarded with items including seed pills, signed books and a T-shirt, depending on the amount donated.

Head over to Kickstarter if you want to donate.