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The creation of a human outpost on Mars is still some way off, but that hasn't stopped us planning the garden. At Kennedy Space Center on April 15, President Barack Obama announced the intention to send humans to Mars by the mid-2030s. If all goes to plan, NASA will kick off an era of space exploration not seen since the Apollo moon programme in the 1960s.

If getting to Mars is a big step, ultimately staying there will be a giant leap. But already, experiments conducted in space and in simulated Martian conditions on Earth have yielded micro-organisms that will eventually help turn Martian rocks into soil, generate oxygen for us to breathe, purify water and recycle waste. Think of these microbial colonies as the first gardens on Mars.

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