Winemakers are planning how to grow grapes on Mars

People drinking wine at sunset
Image credit: Willian West on Unsplash

While researchers at NASA are busying themselves with mastering flight in the thin Martian atmosphere, ambitious vintners from Georgia are working out how they might make wine there.

As Phys.org reports, Georgia claims to be the first nation to master winemaking, and a group of researchers and entrepreneurs from the country are hard at work cultivating grape varieties that might survive on Mars.

"Georgians were the first winemakers on Earth and now we hope to pioneer viticulture on the planet next door," the project's co-founder Nikoloz Doborjginidze explained.

The project follows a call to the public from NASA, seeking ideas to a "sustained human presence" on Mars. 

Terraforming 

One of the biggest challenges for would-be winemakers is the planet's infertile soil (as anyone who watched Matt Damon struggle to cultivate potatoes in 2015 film The Martian will recall). 

The Georgian team are hoping to overcome this hurdle using soil bacteria from parts of the country with 'extreme ecosystems' like hot springs, then cultivate these so they can survive on the red planet.

They are also looking at Georgian grape varieties to determine which might be able to withstand the high levels of UV radiation that the vines would be exposed to.

The next step will involve testing grape varieties in simulated Martian conditions, with bitterly cold temperatures, high levels of carbon dioxide, and low pressure.

"Martian dreams aside, our experiments are providing information that is vital as humanity confronts a multitude of environmental challenges," said Nino Enukidze, dean of Business and Technology University at Silicon Valley Tbilisi. "We will be able to identify and breed food crops resistant to the problems caused by global climate change."