Tea May Hold the Key to Colonising Mars, So Hold the Milk and Biscuits Tim

By James O Malley on at

When humans finally make it to the red planet, the first thing they'll need to do is put the kettle on. Not because they need a drink after such a long journey, but because it turns out the bacteria that is normally found in fermented tea could be incredibly useful to the astronauts.

According to The Telegraph scientists have figured out how to use DNA "tools" to meddle with the bacteria found in Kombucha tea - which means they can control cellulose production, and thus the sorts of material the bacteria produces. This bacteria is apparently already used on earth for manufacturing things like leather substitutes and headphones - but the new mastery of the DNA means that the types of materials it produces can be much more precisely programmed.

The thinking is that astronauts could land on Mars and then set the technology going to produce the materials they need - to save carting it over from Earth. And it could be used to develop, for example, fabric with built in sensors, that changes colour when exposed to different materials. It could also be used to decontaminate water supplies.

Sounds great, right? Though we can't help but wonder if Mars astronauts might prefer something a little more organic. [Telegraph]