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Surprising Science

NASA Building Food Menu for 2030s Mars Mission

NASA is working with Lockheed Martin to design a diet for astronauts on their way to Mars. Food is such an essential part of the journey that one astronaut may be dedicated to meal preparations.

What’s the Latest Development?

In order for NASA to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, six to eight astronauts will require a tasty and nutritious food supply to keep them going. “That’s no simple feat considering it will likely take six months to get to the Red Planet, astronauts will have to stay there 18 months and then it will take another six months to return to Earth.” So NASA is working with Lockheed Martin to meet mission requirements and help astronauts enjoy eating. Because there is gravity on Mars, astronauts may be able to keep a vegetable garden and boil water using a pressure cooker (needed because of the planet’s reduced atmosphere). 

What’s the Big Idea?

Psychology also plays an important role in creating the astronaut’s menu. Due to the lack of gravity in space, smell and taste are diminished, so astronauts may make other kinds of important connections with their food. That can mean planning specials meals that create a link to home on Earth, such as eating stuffing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, or using spice to give meals an extra kick. Planners estimate that food set for Mars must have a shelf-life of five years, which rules out meat and dairy products. Food would form such an essential part of a manned mission to Mars that NASA may dedicate one astronaut solely to preparing food. 

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