Out of this world

The news that a lab in Georgia is mimicking growing wine on Mars is welcome.

Georgia, a country known for its winemaking, wants to be the first nation to grow grapes on Mars – the idea is for bacteria to transform the lifeless surface of Mars into fertile soil to cultivate plants.

Georgia is looking at the project, named IX Millenium, as a way of extending its winemaking tradition that dates back thousands of years. In 2017, archaeologists discovered traces of winemaking on 8,000 years old pottery shards.

Scientists are aiming to develop grapevines that can survive in agriculture pods against conditions like dust and radiation.

To get serious for a moment, the mission to grow plants in space is actually pretty significant to attempts to explore the solar system and beyond. It is also one way of addressing the challenge of climate change in wine production. At this stage they have discovered a varietal resistant to UV radiation.

The research could help hydrate permanent settlements on Mars by 2024.

“Martian dreams aside, our experiments are providing information that is vital as humanity confronts a multitude of environmental challenges,” said scientist Nino Enukidze, dean of the Business and Technology University, which started the project with the Georgian Space Research Agency, the National Museum and a startup called Space Farms. “We will be able to identify and breed food crops resistant to the problems caused by global climate change.”

I’ll raise a glass to their efforts. Astronauts are not alone in liking a wine while we’re exploring the final frontier.

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