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LIMA: In a lab in the Peruvian capital of Lima, a simulator mimicking the harsh conditions found on Mars now contains a hint of life: a nascent potato plant.Though still in early stages, investigators at the International Potato Center believe the initial results are a promising indicator that potatoes might be harvested under conditions as hostile as those on Mars.Peruvian scientists built a simulator akin to a Mars-in-a-box: Frosty below-zero temperatures, high carbon monoxide concentrations, the air pressure found at 6,000 meters altitude and a system of lights imitating the Martian day and night.The Peruvian scientists didn't have to go far to find high-salinity soil similar to that found on Mars, though with some of the organic material Mars lacks: Pampas de la Joya along the country's southern coast receives less than a millimeter of rain a year, making its terrain somewhat comparable to the Red Planet's parched ground.
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