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Scientists aim to brew beer on the Moon

A team of science and engineering students in California is hoping to brew a small amount of beer on the Moon to see how yeast behaves in lunar conditions.

The small fermenter in which the proposed experiment will take place. Photo credit: Erik Jepsen

The experiment from the University of California San Diego team is competing to be taken into space onboard an Indian craft that will be taking off this December.

‘Team Original Gravity’, as the six undergraduates call themselves, has already been selected from an original pool of 3,000 and are now down to the final 25. The team will pitch their idea in front of an international jury in Bangalore this March.

The team is currently perfecting the container in which the brewing will occur, which is no larger than a standard 330 millilitre aluminum can (pictured).

The entire experiment will take place inside the can and will combine the fermentation and carbonation stages of brewing as any release of carbon dioxide could endanger the spacecraft.

The team’s mechanical leader, Srivaths Kaylan, explained that the canister’s design is based on modern fermenters.

“It contains three compartments, the top will be filled with unfermented beer, and the second will contain the yeast.

“When the rover lands on the Moon with our experiment, a valve will open between the two compartments, allowing the two to mix,” said Kaylan.

The team has said that the experiment is designed to find out how yeast behaves in lunar conditions, which could one day be important for the future understanding and development of pharmaceuticals and foods such as bread in space.

The team is not the first to have attempted brewing in zero gravity. In 2013 an 11-year-old boy, Michael Bodzianowski, from Colorado won a science competition to have a simple brewing kit taken up to the International Space Station. A silicon test tube filled with hops, barley, yeast and water separated by clasps was blasted up to the ISS and the clasps removed by an astronaut who then monitored the results.

Sadly, no beer was reported to have resulted from the experiment so Team Original Gravity still has the chance to be the first to brew beer in space.

To find out more about the team and the experiment, click here.

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