Dozens of bottles of premium French wine have been sent to the ISS space station, not to be consumed by astronauts, but to explore how wines mature in space.
The research is partly paid for by wealthy sponsors or patrons. These include French entrepreneur Nicolas Gaume and his collaborator Emmanuel Etcheparre, co-founders of Space Cargo Unlimited, which aims to conduct biological research in microgravity.
What can we learn about wine that will age in space for a year? Two key facts that govern life on Earth in orbit are changing, writes Quartz.
First of all, objects on the International Space Station function in a weightless state or what scientists call microgravity.
Second, without the Earth’s atmosphere, objects in space are exposed to much higher radiation than objects on Earth. These conditions mean that biological processes change in the human body as well as in the bottles of wine. In the latter case, the micro-organisms contribute to the aroma of the wine as they mature and age.
Scientists hope that this experiment will be able to determine whether the process of aging wine in such an environment differs from the same process in the same vintage, but on Earth.
“We suspect that the ‘stay’ of samples sent, spending some time on the ISS and being exposed to microgravity and micro-radiation there, could be influenced by bacteria and ultimately have a positive effect on the aging and maturation process of wine,” says Professor Philippe Darriet. mission scientific adviser and director of the Institute for Wine Research at the University of Bordeaux, where the wine will be analyzed when it returns to Earth.
Bordeaux bottles at the space station will take a year to determine how weightlessness and space radiation affect wine maturation. The purpose of the experiment is to develop new flavors and new properties when it comes to the food industry.
The bottles according to the ISS flew on Saturday in a capsule from Virginia, and arrived there on Monday. Each bottle is packed in a metal canister to prevent damage or breakage.
Scientists from universities in the German province of Bavaria also participate in the experiment at the University of Bordeaux. Upon returning to earth, wine from Bordeaux will be compared to wine that has matured on earth.
This is the first of six space missions planned over the next three years. A similar experiment was carried out in 2011 by the Scottish whiskey distillery in Ardberg when it sent several bottles of whiskey to the ISS. The project was overseen by the US company Nanoracks, which specializes in the preparation and transportation into payload orbit.
“Experts have found that as he aged two years at the space station, whiskey in color and taste has aged as much as five years,” Nanoracks CEO Jeffrey Manber said at the time.