The researchers also discovered that the holes that the earthworms dig in the soil aerate the mixture and improve the structure of the soil, making it easier for the water to penetrate the soil and feed the plants.
The appearance of worms seems to indicate that, at least in the short term, worms thrive in these closed ecosystems.
The purpose of the experiment is to discover how well the worms decompose old waste to produce food for bacteria and plants in the soil simulant mixture and pig slurry (or manure). Several flowering plants were allowed to germinate in several containers of this mixture, and then adult worms were added.
A crowdfunding campaign was launched to continue the experiments with these resistant worms. "Worms for Mars" has already raised more than half of its € 10K funding target, and with the help of the public, Wageningen University and Research hopes to continue testing different crops along with their tracking assistants. There is a possibility that sharp edges on a non-terrestrial floor could damage the entrails of the creatures, the researchers said in another statement.
When worms eat organic matter, they also eat the soil. As there is not much wear and tear on the Martian terrain, the sharp edges on its soil do not wear out (as they do on Earth) and can cause damage to the worms, according to the statement. The presence of heavy metals in Martian soil could also be a long-term problem for worms, which would require longer experiments to properly address it, the researchers said.
Original article on Space.com.