High school student project finds 2 tricks for plants on Mars

The soil and water of Mars are normally too harsh for crops, but research led by a then-high school sophomore finds that alfalfa plants and photosynthetic bacteria might help make Martian soil and water fit enough to support farming.

Feeding crews on Mars will be a major challenge for any long-term human mission there, given the high costs of launching anything from Earth to the Red Planet. Scientists have long sought ways to raise crops on Mars, but its soil is poor in the organic nutrients most plants need to grow, and its water is extremely salty.