Beer on Mars: Students Find Red Planet Could Grow Hops

January 18, 2018, 4:07 PM UTC
NASA's Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope took this picture of Mars.
Photograph by NASA—Getty Images

Attention, Elon Musk: You might want to include a few hop plants in the cargo hold when you colonize Mars. Craft breweries could be huge there.

A group of students at Villanova University have found that hops, which are critical to the beer-making process, could grow well in Martian soil.

The study, headed by Professor Edward Guinan of the school’s astronomy and astrophysics department, initially looked at which crops would thrive in soil that is similar to that found on Mars (based on readings taken by the Phoenix Mars lander and samples recreated on earth). Hops took to the dense, dry, and often inhospitable soil typical to the planet.

“I don’t know if it’s a practical plant, but it’s doing fairly well,” said Guinan.

There is one slight hurdle, though. Actual soil on Mars contains perchlorates, a poison that causes thyroid problems. So you might want to have a backup drink available until this issue is worked out.

Also, as a word of warning to the first brewer who travels to the Red Planet, Bell’s Brewing has already released a Double IPA called Mars. So you’ll have to be a little more creative with your concoction’s name.