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Heinz Creates Ketchup on Mars

Credit: Unsplash

Ketchup is such an enduring staple of the western diet, it’s always a little wild when someone tries to mix it up. Remember that purple and green ketchup from the early 2000s? They say it tasted the same as the regular stuff if you closed your eyes, but I still maintain that it was awful. But rather than just changing the pigment of your ketchup, what if you were to change its ingredients on a fundamental, unearthly level? That’s what Heinz is finding out.

For the past nine months, Heinz has sponsored an experiment at the Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology, bringing on a team of researchers to grow tomatoes in conditions designed to mimic those of the surface of Mars. The soil, temperature, and water conditions have all been carefully tweaked to replicate Martian soil, all with the goal of determining whether or not tomatoes could be grown there. After nine months, the researchers crop successfully yielded Martian tomatoes, which will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind bottle of “Marz Edition” Heinz ketchup.

“Before now, most efforts around discovering ways to grow in Martian-simulated conditions are short-term plant growth studies. What this project has done is look at long-term food harvesting. Achieving a crop that is of a quality to become Heinz Tomato Ketchup was the dream result and we achieved it,” said team lead Andrew Palmer.

Tomorrow, the research team will try the Marz Edition ketchup in a livestream, where they’ll be joined by a special guest: former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino. According to Massimino, ketchup is a staple of any good zero-gravity pantry, giving a little zing to bland dehydrated meals. This isn’t just a novelty experiment, though; if the ketchup is good enough, it could give more credence to the idea of farming on alien worlds someday. You can watch the team’s reactions on the official Heinz Twitter on Wednesday at 10:00 AM Eastern time.

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