(CNN) – At first it was billionaires, then movie stars … Now ketchup is heading into the space race.
Heinz made its first “Mars Edition” ketchup with tomatoes produced on Earth in conditions similar to those on Mars. A team of 14 astrobiologists worked for nine months at Florida Institute of Technology’s Aldrin Space Institute, growing tomatoes in a controlled environment with soil, temperature, and water conditions similar to those on Mars.
Ketchup made from traditional crushed tomatoes has been a space staple to garnish dried meals, said former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, but Mars’ variegated version has implications beyond taste. The two-year experiment demonstrates the long-term potential for food production on Mars.
“To date, most of the efforts related to discovering ways to grow crops in simulated Mars conditions are short-term studies of plant growth. What this project has done is studying long-term food harvesting. Getting a high-quality crop that turns into Heinz ketchup,” said Andrew Palmer, who led The team at Florida Tech’s Aldrin Space Institute said, “The result was a dream and we’ve made it.”
NASA has also experimented with harvesting plants in space to provide astronauts with more nutrients for their freeze-dried diet. (It seems that the human body cannot survive on freeze-dried ice cream.)
The International Space Station recently hosted a taco party after harvesting the station’s first hot pepper; Ketchup could be your next taco party guest. There has been talk of sending a tomato-growing experiment to the space station, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbra said Friday.
The research team and Massimino will be the first to test the final product on November 10 at 10 a.m. ET. You can watch the historical event on Heinz’s social media channels, such as Twitter and Instagram.
Mars ketchup is not available for purchase, but if you find yourself traveling to Mars, it might be something you don’t have to pack.
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