The recent discovery of an ancient microbrewery on Mars was expected to occupy the attention of scientists for months if not years, but the announcement this week that NASA astronomers had detected what appears to be a half-eaten pizza on that planet has shifted the focus to food and away from beer.
“Pizza is an especially important find because the toppings tell us a great deal about the aliens who chose them,” Amy Chin, NASA’s deputy administrator for culinary science, said during a news conference on Tuesday. “In this case we’ve been able to confirm that onions and mushrooms were spread fairly evenly across the pie, with sausage, pepperoni, green olives and jalapeño peppers on only half of it. This suggests that at least two aliens with different tastes had ordered the pizza and were sharing it, which in turn indicates they were part of a communal culture.”
The pizza — a 16-inch medium-crust with extra cheese — was detected in high-resolution photographs taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which since 2006 has searched the Martian landscape for evidence of food and beverages capable of sustaining life. Scientists say they will now intensify the hunt for additional ingredients and seasonings in the area where the pizza was found.
“A Parmesan shaker is the prize many of us now hope to find,” said Donald Becker, a professor of astro-Italian gastronomy at Harvard University’s School for Interstellar Edibles. “We’d love to put some of that grated cheese under the microscope and see what’s there.”
Other scientists expressed an interest in finding menus and coupons, in particular any “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” offers.