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Red Wine on Red Planet? Georgia Aims to Grow Grapes on Mars

Georgia is immensely proud of its ancient wine-making tradition, claiming to have been the first nation to make wine. Now it wants to be the first to grow grapes on Mars.

Nestling between the Great Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, Georgia has a mild climate that is perfect for vineyards and has developed a thriving wine tourism industry.

Now Nikoloz Doborjginidze has co-founded a project to develop grape varieties that can be grown on Mars.

After Nasa called for the public to contribute ideas for a “sustained human presence” on the Red Planet, a group of Georgian researchers and entrepreneurs got together to propel the country’s winemaking onto an interplanetary level. Their project is called IX Millennium — a reference to Georgia’s long history of wine-making.

Since archaeologists found traces of wine residue in ancient clay vessels, the country has boasted that it has been making wine for 8,000 years — longer than any other nation.

Nasa hopes to launch a manned mission to Mars within 25 years, while billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has set a goal of outstripping the US space agency by a decade.

The scientists collected bacteria from regions of Georgia with “extreme ecosystems” such as hot sulphurous springs, then bred strains capable of living in Martian conditions, she says.

One of the scientists, astrobiologist Marika Tarasashvili and her colleagues are also testing the skins of Georgia’s 525 indigenous grape varieties to establish which are most resistant to the high levels of ultra-violet radiation hitting the Martian surface
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