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In collaboration with Heinz, a team of astrobiologists at Florida Tech's Aldrin Space Institute have ensured that if humans ever live on Mars, those intrepid adventurers won’t have to go without one of Earth’s favorite condiments.
Using information about the makeup of the Martian soil, the researchers embarked on a two-year project to grow high-quality tomatoes in Mars-like conditions and turn them into ketchup that tastes like Heinz’s flagship sauce. The verdict? Using plants grown in Earth-based soil chemically matched to the Red Planet's regolith, and subjecting them to the same temperature and water extremes found on Mars, Heinz has produced the first bottle of "Marz Edition" ketchup. No word yet on Martian-style fries.
An out-of-this-world condiment:
- Although not available for purchase, the Marz Edition ketchup was unveiled recently at the Heinz headquarters in Pittsburgh, where the experimental sauce became certified as “official Heinz Tomato Ketchup.”
- This research was one of the largest projects of its kind related to Mars. But scientists say there are also local benefits, such as demonstrating that tomatoes can be grown in harsh places right here on Earth.
- "In space we have a saying: It’s not about the food, it's about the sauce,'" said Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut. Food in space was dehydrated and bland, he explained, adding: “A good dollop of sauce always made your meals delicious.”