BY: BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
Have you ever wondered how yeast would act in outer space? No me neither, but lucky for us some science students have or else we wouldn’t have the possibility of brewing beer on the moon.
A group of engineering students at the University of California, San Diego are among the finalists in the Lab2Moon competition organized by TeamIndus, a team based in India who is sending a spacecraft to the moon.
Team ‘Original Gravity’ has designed a vessel which while up in space will distribute yeast to an otherwise beer ready wort, meaning that all the prep work for the brew will be done on Earth. The vessel is the size of a soda can and is designed to test the viability of the yeast and the density of the beer by using pressure rather than gravity. It also combines the usually separate processes of fermentation and carbonation for safety reasons. While beer is obviously the best result of yeast, understanding how the fungus works is also beneficial for making food and pharmaceuticals.
“The idea started out with a few laughs amongst a group of friends,” said Neeki Ashari, a fifth year bioengineering student and the team’s public relations and operations lead. “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.”
Original Gravity will be judged among the other 25 finalist in March in Bangalore, India.
TeamIndus, is a finalist in another competition called the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition that will award $30 million to a private company that places a spacecraft on the moon which can move 500 metres and transmit high-definition video back to Earth. According to their website TeamIndus aims to “take on cultural challenges for humanity” by testing the circumstances on the moon which would make it a possible base for humans.
“The yeast study is among the coolest experiments to be performed on the lunar surface,” said Siddhest Naik from TeamIndus. “Original Gravity is one of the most hardworking teams and very dedicated to their project.”
The spacecraft, and possibly a beer brewing vessel, is scheduled to start its ascent to the moon on December 28th.