Drunk Science is the Best Science: Startup Sends Case of Wine to Space to Age for a Year

Tuesday, 05 November 2019 - 10:20AM
Astrobiology
Tuesday, 05 November 2019 - 10:20AM
Drunk Science is the Best Science: Startup Sends Case of Wine to Space to Age for a Year
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When the 17th century Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon first called to his brothers "come quickly, I am tasting stars" after his first taste of champagne, he probably would have never guessed that wine would eventually find its way into the vast reaches of the Heavens outstretched before his heady exclamation. According to TechCrunch, however, that just happened with a case of bordeaux – from an unnamed château – aboard a Cygnus cargo spaceship that docked with the International Space Station on Monday. 


The project is the brainchild of Space Cargo Unlimited (SCU), a European self-described space-bio startup that has partnered with NASA and a number of French universities to research the effects of microgravity and radiation on wine in space. The wine will remain bottled (sorry, astronauts) and aboard the ISS under controlled temperatures for 12 months, after which time it will be analyzed at the Institut Des Sciences De La Vigne Et Du Vin (ISVV) at the University of Bordeaux. A control case of the same wine will remain on Earth. The idea is to see what effect, if any, space conditions have on the microorganisms living in wine.


"We postulate that keeping these samples for a while on the ISS with this context of microgravity and micro-radiation could impact those bacterias and presumably it could have a positive impact," ISVV director Professor Philippe Darriet told Quartz. NASA agrees: "the microgravity environment affects sedimentation and bubble dispersion in the liquid phase. For spaceflight samples, an increased reaction surface, limited by the oxygen available in the solution, is expected. As a consequence of the development of secondary metabolites, colloids and polyphenols are foreseen to be significantly influenced by this constrained environment."


Rearing its ugly head to dim the bright light of scientific discovery is conspicuous consumption. Quartz reports that the research is partly funded by a "luxury goods partnership" that will deliver a handcrafted chest full of goods – including a bottle of the wine – to a handful of ultra-rich "patrons" who undoubtedly see space wine as a marker of taste, sophistication, and status. Then again, private money tends to work faster than waiting around for the grifters posing as public servants to fund something other than their next home purchase, so we can't really begrudge SCU for flattering cash wherever they can find it. 


This is not the first time that wine has headed to space. Decanter reports that in 1985, a half bottle of 1975 Château Lynch-Bages was placed aboard the Discovery shuttle with the French astronaut Patrick Baudry where it circled the Earth 111 times for a total journey of 2.9 million miles. 


À votre santé.





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