As we humans continue to annihilate our home planet, the possibility of life on Mars grows increasingly more enticing. But if we’re pursuing total self-sufficiency in a hostile climate, we’re gonna need to ask some tough questions. Namely, who’s bringin’ the beer? In a recent interview with Popular Science, bioastronautics researcher Kellie Gerardi explained that beer ingredients could maybe, possibly, potentially be grown directly on the Red Planet. Bottoms up, boys.
In the interview, Gerardi explained that she and six other scientists spent time at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in 2014. The MDRS is a Utah-based lab designed to mimic the conditions humans would experience on Mars, and one of their missions was apparently to test how well sorghum and hops might survive in Martian soil. “After all,” Gerardi quipped, “what’s life on the Red Planet if you can’t enjoy it?”
Gerardi told PopSci that the team planted two sets of crops: one in regular soil and another in a NASA-made compound that mocks Mars’ dirt at a chemical level. “The seeds sprouted and thrived in both systems, and the sorghum ones germinated two days earlier in the faux red clay,” Gerardi said.
The results are certainly promising, but Gerardi notes that the team can’t guarantee similar success during an actual space mission. “Our experimental dirt is a close dupe, but it’s not the real thing,” Gerardi told PopSci. “In particular, the mixture [in our study] doesn’t contain perchlorates, toxic compounds that are present in all Martian soil.” Fortunately, NASA’s new Perseverance rover is set to reach the Red Planet this month, extracting soil samples for earthlings to analyze. And then prepare for the ultimate question: can you pull off a keg stand in space?