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NASA scientists say we're one step closer to putting human life on the red planet -- and it all starts with a few tiny plants.

NASA hopes to put greenhouse on Mars

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 3:50 PM - We may be one step closer to putting life on Mars. By 2021, NASA hopes to be growing plants on the red planet.

NASA's next Mars rover is expected to land on the planet in 2020, and it may be bringing a few plants along with it.

Researchers hope to conduct a plant-growth experiment which could pave the way to a human colonization on Mars.

"In order to do a long-term, sustainable base on Mars, you would want to be able to establish that plants can at least grow on Mars," Mars Planet Experiment deputy principal investigator Heather Smith said at an April 24 conference in Washington.

"This would be the first step in that … we just send the seeds there and watch them grow."

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Scientists hope to attach a box to the exterior of the next Mars rover which will contain Earth air and about 200 seeds.

The seeds will receive water when the rover touches down. It's hoped the box will turn into a mini-greenhouse within two weeks.

"We would go from this simple experiment to the greenhouses on Mars for a sustainable base," Smith added. 

"That would be the goal."

If the experiment is successful, it will mark the first time multi-cellular organisms grow, live and die on another planet.

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