Along with their Christmas haul, scientists aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have received the first batch of barley that will go into experiments on growing the grain in outer space that will form the basis for beer brewing experiments in space.

The programme came after Budweiser declared that it will be the first brand of beer on Mars. To that end, they have already partnered with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) — the organisation that runs the US National Laboratory on the ISS.

As of now, astronauts have received barley seeds that they will attempt to cultivate and grow in space, noted a report by Popular Mechanics (PM). They will also be studying how the plant reacts and adapts to a zero gravity environment.

Scientists will conduct two experiments in the ISS with the barley seeds — at first they will study how barley grows in space and the second will focus on the rate of seed germination. They will find out if the seeds of barley germinate at the same speed, at an accelerated rate or if they slow down in zero gravity.

After the first stage of experiments are completed in space, the seeds will be sent down to Earth so that they can be studied further and analysed on the ground. The idea is not only to have plants grow well in space, but they also hope to learn how they can be made to grow better here on the ground. This, it is hoped, will lead to an understanding of how plants can grow in Mars as well.

The brewing will be the next part of the overall experiment, and hopefully, by the time humans reach Mars to inhabit it, there will be beer there as well.