Mars simulation proves we should be able to brew beer on the Red Planet

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Feb 27, 2015, 12:36 PM EST (Updated)

It’s a part of the equation you don’t usually hear about, since it's typically drowned out by debate over how we’ll be able to get humans on Mars and build suitable habitats for them to survive. But once we eventually get them there, how will people actually live on the Red Planet?

There have been a handful of projects in recent years aiming to simulate what life might be like for the first astronauts who eventually set up shop on Mars, and one of those is the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a simulated base in Hanksville, Utah. It’s one of four similar stations managed by the Mars Society, and it aims to test out how equipment and procedures might work in a harsh atmosphere that is the closest approximation we can make while still on Earth.

But the latest crew of the MDRS also took on a little side project during their tenure on faux Mars — they wanted to prove future astronauts would be able to brew beer once they got there, so they took it upon themselves to grow all the necessary ingredients in soil meant to simulate the dirt we’ll be working with up there. In an interview with Playboy, crewmember Kellie Gerardi noted that hops have medicinal applications and sorghum has high nutritional value — and both plants also happen to be key ingredients in beer.

Here’s what Gerardi had to say about the obvious practical applications of being able to chill out after a long day of exploring with a cold brew:

“While there are many hurdles to overcome in the effort to colonize Mars, we think the ability to enjoy a cold beer might just make the trip a little more appealing. For an early colony, you’ll want to duplicate as many Earthly staples as possible, for comfort and for diversity. Hemp would be another good, useful crop, but that’s a different story altogether.

If we truly want to democratize access to space, and incentivize people to take an interest in space activities, then we need to do everything in our power to make it more appealing. I see a future where space settlement isn’t a sacrifice – it’s an opportunity.”

So how’d the experiment go? Turns out the plants actually grew larger and faster in the simulated Martian soil, which proves (theoretically, at least) that future astronauts should be able to eventually grow the items necessary to brew beer. Sadly, they didn’t have enough time to actually brew the beer, due to the fact that their cycle at the base only lasted two weeks, but they plan to eventually publish the results in a scientific journal.

Do you think the opportunity to have a beer on Mars makes space exploration more appealing?

(Via Playboy)