The astronauts’ one is a beautiful life, with the head and the whole body between the stars, to dream and to watch the planet Earth from above. Maybe, though, it isn’t all so idyllic. Starting from the food. And in the future, when the missions will last months, or years, the problem will be ever more clear. And so the NASA launched a competition, by asking: What we will eat on Mars?
What do the astronauts eat today?
On the international space station the food is still enough good and varied, even though most of it is freeze dried and precooked.
The astronauts are able to eat some foods in the same way as we do here on Earth, but they are few. The cookies for example, they can be ate as on the Earth, but be careful to the flying crumbs!
The quantity of food is counted. The portions were prepared on the Earth. Everything is packed and decided in advance. Let’s think that it’s the astronaut himself to decide his food on the ISS. To the base camp he tastes everything and he says what he wants and what not. But he can’t come back, his portions are now decided.
The space food arrives into packages easy to use and to dispose and it’s almost everything pasteurised, sterilized or dehydrated. So, everything is studied to have a deadline of 36 months.
The astronauts can even use the sauces, but only liquid. There is the salt and pepper on the space station, for example, but it is a special liquid format. They can’t spread the salt and the pepper on the food like we do on Earth, because it will fly away.
What will we eat on Mars
The point “what will we eat on Mars” is, instead, a little bit more complex. First of all because the missions might be longer and then because there isn’t a direct and usual connection as it happens with the ISS. All the food might be carry during a very long trip, which is hard and expensive. And even if it is freeze-dried, dehydrated and vacuum packed, there will be huge problems of space.
Furthermore, one is already thinking about a stable colony and every colony needs to self-produce the food.
But how to do grow or raise anything on a death planet? Sure something can be done and the cinema teached us it, but the astronauts and the future colonists need a rich and varied diet.
The contest of the Nasa: What will we eat on Mars
And here you are, lastly, to our contest by the NASA: what will we eat on Mars?
It isn’t, infact, only to understand what will we eat on Mars. Is it possible to grow potatos? Probably yes. And then? We need all the nutrients, the proteins, the carbs, the vegetables. What can we do? The Nasa doesn’t only want an idea, but real technologies and methods for the production of food for a whole space colony.
The contest, that is called “Deep Space Food Challenge” started in the middle of January and the last date to present the projects is the 30th of july. For grabs there are 500 thousand dollars, which will be shared for a maximum of 20 selected groups.
The NASA explains that, like we said, while the astronauts on the ISS periodically receive supplies from the Earth, the astronauts that will be involved in the future missions on Mars will be alone for at least three years. This means that they must be able to do their own food.
As we can read from the contest: “they have to get the higher possible quantity of food with minimum inputs and waste and create many different taste foods, nutrient and safe that require few time to be prepared”.
“We have to give them food that satisfy all the calorie and nutritional requirements, but we want to do something more. We want that the diversity, the acceptability and the nutritional content of the chosen diet won’t only supply the body but even the taste to promote both the physical and the mental health”.
This post is also available in: Italiano