Worried about not having your favorite craft beer or microbrew on Mars? Turns out the local stuff might be better. While Martian beer might not be the first thing you think of for future travelers scoping out life on Mars, hops — the small flowery plant used to brew beer — thrived surprisingly well in an experiment performed by a group of students at Villanova University.
(Bonus? Research says beer works better than some painkillers, so we think the experiment makes total sense. After all, chances are we’ll still get headaches on Mars.)
The students in Edward Guinan’s astrobiology class studied the possibility of life beyond Earth, and they discovered quite a few interesting things about the potential for plant growth on the Red Planet. Soil on Mars is known to be pretty dense and well-suited for tough plants like potatoes, according to scientists’ research and Matt Damon’s character in Andy Weir’s The Martian, but most other plants the Villanova students experimented with also managed to grow, with varying degrees of success.
One surprise winner? Mesclun, a mix of small salad greens, grew fantastically well. We guess that means there will be plenty of salad available to go with your french fries and beer on Mars.
While Guinan’s class isn’t the first to try growing plants in Martian soil, the students did create a few other interesting experiments — including adding bits of cardboard to the soil in place of an earthly mineral. One group added coffee grinds to their soil as a filler, which allowed their plants to grow much faster than most, even when compared to the control plants grown in Earth potting mix.
Translation: You won’t have to stop drinking coffee when you finally get to Mars, either.
Dr. Guinan vetoed testing the growth of marijuana, but the students don’t plan to stop their experiments with Martian beer. Two Villanova University students will be performing follow-up experiments that include growing barley, another ingredient needed for brewing beer on Mars.
And we’re totally here for the results.