Farmers Wanted for Life on Mars

Farmers Wanted for Life on Mars

Spaceman riding past Mars in what appears to be a Tesla-powered farm tractor

Precision agriculture technology in outer space! What’s next, a Tesla-powered tractor autonomously picking crops from Mars’ back forty? Maybe.

Living in Florida has its perks, sure: the temperate weather, an abundance of beautiful beaches, exotic wildlife, Grapefruit League baseball, amusement parks galore, and a bounty of fresh produce available year-round — to name a few.

Another chamber of commerce highlight would be the ability to have a front-row seat for cutting-edge space exploration. Florida’s Space Coast has seen a resurgence lately thanks in large part to SpaceX and its CEO Elon Musk. Also the leader of Tesla Motors, the multibazillionaire tech geek with a soft spot for sustainability has far-reaching aspirations with SpaceX. Some of those dreams have played out for the world to see, capturing the imagination and attention of millions.

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All eyes were on Central Florida during the recent historic launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket. The 21-story vehicle — powered by 27 giant engines capable of generating more than 5 million pounds of thrust — successfully blasted into the heavens and carried with it one of Musk’s prized Tesla roadsters. The car, complete with a dummy called “Starman” at the controls, was destined for Mars.

The launch, along with the return of recyclable rocket boosters landing in unison also was a wonder to behold. From start to finish, it was one helluva show. Never mind one rocket booster missed its mark on a barge in the Atlantic, and the fact “Starman” actually propelled past the Mars orbit into the Asteroid Belt. Musk dismissed those missteps as minor in the grand scheme. He even quipped about the absurdity of putting a car into orbit. Ah, that’s the beauty of it. This was a test mission for subsequent trips to Mars and beyond. Based on the performance and clamor for and promise of more, the future is now for space travel. But what else is out there?

Growing Out of This World
In recent years, there have been multiple projects experimenting with different ways to grow food in outer space. Astronauts on the International Space Station have successfully used agriculture technology to produce several lettuce crops for interstellar consumption.

Did you know the University of Florida has a Space Plants Lab? For nearly two decades, its team leaders have experimented and collaborated on missions with NASA and yes, SpaceX.

To Infinity and Beyond
With his head among the stars, SpaceX’s Musk also continues to turn heads on solid ground. Tesla’s line of all-electric cars with autopilot capability is now moving into semi-truck territory. Sound absurd? No, not with a red roadster floating above our heads for all eternity. In fact, companies like FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart are fully on board with the concept and have placed large orders.

So what’s next, a Tesla farm tractor autonomously picking several acres of strawberries on Mars’ back forty? Sounds like a worthy challenge. Your move, Mr. Musk.