During their last semester at Villanova University, the 25 students in Professor Edward F. Guinan’s astrobiology class were tasked with finding crops that could possibly grow on the red planet.
The New York Times says that one group chose hops. Naturally.
“Because they’re students,” Dr. Guinan said. “Martian beer.”
In order to recreate the conditions on Mars, Dr. Guinan purchased 100 pounds of soil made of crushed basalt from a volcano in the Mojave Desert. This, according analysis by NASA spacecrafts, is a reasonably good replication of the soil on Mars. The students were given a section of a greenhouse with a screen to reduce light, mimicking Mars’ further distance from the sun.
The students found hops, alongside other crops like scallions, carrots and spinach, can grow in soil similar to that on Mars.
There are still plenty of hurdles to overcome before the galaxy’s newest brewpub opens in the Mariner Valley. The red planet’s soil contains perchlorates—chemicals that cause thyroid problems in people—which were left out of this experiment. However, scientists believe rinsing percholorates out with water might be a possibility, and are also exploring using perchlorate-eating bacteria to clean soil.
Two students are already planning a follow-up experiment to see if another key ingredient to beer can grow on Mars: barley.
Scientists are not just looking to make beer in space. Is it also possible to have Outer Space Grapes?