Georgia is extremely proud of its ancient winemaking tradition, claiming to have been the first nation to produce wine. Now he wants to be the first to grow grapes on Mars.
Nestled between the mountains of the Greater Caucasus and the Black Sea, Georgia enjoys a mild climate, conducive to vineyards, and has developed a thriving wine tourism industry.
Nikoloz Doborjginidze co-founded a project to develop varieties that can be grown on Mars.
"The Georgians were the first winemakers on Earth and we now hope to be the pioneers of viticulture on the neighboring planet," he told AFP.
After NASA called on the public to come up with ideas for a "sustainable human presence" on the Red Planet, a group of Georgian researchers and entrepreneurs came together to propel the country's winemaking to the interplanetary level. .
Their project is called Millennium IX – a reference to Georgia's long wine history.
Since archaeologists have found traces of wine residues in ancient clay vessels, the country has boasted of producing wine for 8,000 years, longer than any other country.
IX Millennium is managed by a consortium consisting of the Georgian Space Research Agency, the University of Business and Technology of Tbilisi, the National Museum and a company called Space Farms.
Although it may sound like science fiction, the idea that humans drink wine on the fourth planet of the sun is getting closer to reality.
NASA hopes to launch a human mission on Mars 25 years from now, while the billionaire company Elon Musk's SpaceX has set a goal of exceeding the US space agency by ten years.
Astrobiologist Marika Tarasashvili, one of the scientists working on the project, is developing bacteria that could turn Martian soil into a fertile land.
The researchers have already achieved "decisive" results in experiments, she said with a smile, while she was staring at a glass vial containing fake-martian earth in a lab at the same time. narrow Tbilisi.
Scientists have collected bacteria in areas of Georgia with "extreme ecosystems" such as hot sulfur springs and strains capable of living in Martian conditions, she said.
The idea is that bacteria turn the lifeless surface of Mars into a fertile soil "on which future settlers can grow plants," she said.
Tarasashvili and his colleagues are also testing the skins of 525 grape varieties native to Georgia to determine which ones are most resistant to the high levels of ultraviolet radiation reaching the Martian surface.
Preliminary results showed that light-skinned Rkatsiteli grapes – a popular variety producing white wines with crisp green apple flavors – are more resistant to ultraviolet light.
"In the distant future, Martian settlers will be able to grow their crops directly on Martian soil," said Tusia Garibashvili, founder of Space Farms, a member of the IX Millennium project.
"But we must first create a model of fully controlled sustainable Mars greenhouses."
Her company is currently building a vertical agriculture laboratory, which she calls "the ideal technology for tomorrow's Martian agriculture".
The plants will grow in special facilities located in a trendy hotel in Tbilisi, arranged in vertically stacked layers with carefully controlled temperature, light and humidity.
The next step will be to test Georgian grapes in a simulated Martian environment in a laboratory under construction at Business and Technology University.
"The plants will be subjected to subzero temperatures (Celsius), high levels of radiation and carbon monoxide (and) at high altitude atmospheric pressure," said BTU Dean Dean Enukidze.
"Martian dreams aside, our experiences provide vital information as humanity faces a host of environmental challenges," Enukidze said.
"We will be able to identify and replicate food crops that are resistant to the problems caused by global climate change."
First on the martian menu: spuds
© 2019 AFP
Grapes on Mars? The vine growers of Georgia aim high (April 9, 2019)
recovered on April 9, 2019
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