China is planning a trip to Mars — and they have the vegetables to prove it. In a recently concluded lab experiment, a 300 cubic meter cabin was converted into a grow-space that served as a "ecological life support system." The tiny biosphere could pave the way for a future mission to Mars in which plants will be used to take in carbon dioxide, while providing oxygen and sustenance for the pioneers living within in.
According to Deng Yibing, deputy director of the Beijing-based Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, the experiment was an attempt to create and study the complex interplay of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water with people and plants — and all within a closed system. The study was conducted in Beijing with the help of German scientists.
The experiment, the first of its kind in China, produced four different types of vegetables. The system could someday allow astronauts to produce their own stocks of air, water, vegetables, and fruits.
Regrettably, the official press release was lacking in detail. Given that a truly functional closed biosphere has never actually been created, this would be a rather remarkable accomplishment. It's very likely that the Chinese are overstating the success of the experiment.