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University Students Study if Beer Can Be Brewed on the Moon

A team of University of California San Diego engineering students are studying the viability of yeast on the moon and whether beer can be freshly brewed with it. If the idea sounds like a joke, that is because it started as one.  “The idea started out with a few laughs amongst a group of friends, We all appreciate the craft of beer, and some of us own our own home-brewing kits. When we heard that there was an opportunity to design an experiment that would go up on India’s moonlander, we thought we could combine our hobby with the competition by focusing on the viability of yeast in outer space.” says Neeki Ashari, the team’s PR and Operations Lead. Ashari is a fifth year bioengineering student and like the rest of his team are part of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, calling themselves “Team Original Gravity”. The rest of the team includes students Johnny Koo, Jared Buchanan, Sebastian Kaser, Clarissa Hoffman, Seth Choi, Jeff Cash, and Tavish Traut.

What is impressive however, is that the group is just one of the 25 teams selected from a pool of 3,000 competing for a spot aboard the TeamIndus spacecraft set to launch on December 28, 2017. Team Original Gravity are finalists in the Lab2Moon competition and part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge.

The research is very important to space travel not just because of the viability of brewing beer, but because yeast is important in developing pharmaceuticals and food so it is essential in studying its behaviour for long-term space travel. The team has designed a unique system to accomplish this task: In the experiment, unfermented beer is not brewed but the prep work is done before launch. Then the actual fermentation phase is combined with the carbonation process, minimizing the accumulated release of CO2 which is a safety concern once in space. The actual testing of fermentation and yeast viability will be done via pressure instead of using density measurements like on Earth since that requires gravity.

The ultimate goal of TeamIndus with projects such as the one from Team Original Gravity is to accelerate human transition into a sustainable multi-planetary species. All other entries for the challenge includes teams from all over the world with research involving various biological and electrical studies.  “The yeast study is among the coolest experiments to be performed on the lunar surface, and I am sure they are one of the top contenders to win the Lab2Moon competition. Original Gravity is one of the most hardworking teams and very dedicated to their project.” says to Siddhesh Naik, TeamIndus Ninja and mentor to the Original Gravity team.

Ron Perillo

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