Selecting the perfect landing site will be essential for the successful establishment of the first Mars colony. Growing food crops will be one of the key tasks for the astronauts. Scientists of Wageningen University & Research have identified places on Mars that are favourable for plant species to grow.
Even though plants will be grown indoors, resources as regolith and ice will be used. Wieger Wamelink and student Line Schug developed an optimal 3D Mars-wide landing map, seen from a plants perspective. Some of the ideal landing places coincide with past and planned future landing sites.
To estimate the optimal landing places on Mars the researchers used several of the Martian maps showing essential information that are made freely available by JPL, the Arizona State University and NASA. “Without them this endeavour would not have been possible”, explains Wieger Wamelink. The maps contain information about mineral content, which can for example be related to calcium and heavy metal content. But also element maps for potassium, chloride, iron and silicon and maps for radiation level, climate, terrain including altitude and cosmic radiation were used. [More at link]