Food for Mission to Mars

Hidden in the maze hallway, deep inside a 1960s-era building that has become a place of research since the early years of U.S. space travel, a group of scientists in white robes stirring, mixing, measuring, brushing and, most importantly, tasted their cooking results.

Their mission: Creating a menu for a planned trip to Mars in the 2030s.

This menu should provide enough food for a group of astronauts that consists of six to eight people, to meet health standards, and offers a variety of food while in space.

That’s not a simple thing to remember that it will probably take six months to get to Mars. Astronauts need to stay there 18 months and then will spend six months to return to Earth. Imagine having to buy supplies for one family at a time to eat enough during that time period.

“Mars is different because so far,” said Maya Cooper, senior scientist at Lockheed Martin who led the effort to create the menu. “We can not send a vehicle every six months and send the food supply as we did for the International Space Station.”

Astronauts who travel to the space station provided a variety of foods, some 100 or more different options. But it all has been prepared in advance and frozen to last a minimum of two years.

The astronauts set up a panel to approve it before tasting the food and leave, but the lack of gravity results in the sense of smell and taste are impaired. So the food was bland.

Even so, there is little gravity on Mars, so that NASA consider significant changes to the current menu space. That’s where Cooper team conjunct. Travel to Mars open the possibility that the astronauts could do things like cut vegetables and cook for themselves. Although different levels of pressure to the Earth, scientists think they may be able to boil water with heating.

One option being considered Cooper and his staff at the Johnson Space Center in Houston is that the astronauts had a “glass house.” They will be provided a variety of fruits and vegetables – from carrots to peppers – in a hydroponic solution, which means fruits and vegetables will be grown in water rather than soil mineral binding.

The astronauts will take care of their garden and then use these materials, combined with other materials, such as nuts and spices brought from Earth, to process food.

“Menu is advantageous because it allows the astronauts to actually have a live plant that grows, you get optimal nutrition with fruits and vegetables. This option actually allows them to have the freedom to choose when cooking menu because it is not in the form of instant menu , “Cooper said.

The main priority is to ensure that the astronauts get the nutrients, calories and minerals in just the right amount to maintain physical health and their performance to support this mission, said Cooper.

The menu also must ensure the psychological health of astronauts, Cooper explained. He noted that research has shown that by eating certain foods – like meat loaf and mashed potatoes or turkey on Thanksgiving – will enhance the mood of people and give them the satisfaction.

That “food is reminiscent of the house” will be key for astronauts on Mars missions, and there are now two academic studies to seek further the relationship between mood and food. Certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies can also harm the brain, he said.

Jerry Linenger, a retired astronaut who spent 132 days on the Russian Mir space station in 1997, said the food is important for morale and eat the same food for days is not bad.

“You just want something different. I do not care if it’s something I did not eat at all when on Earth. If it’s different, I’ll eat it,” said Linenger, remembering with a laugh how she would even drink a potion Russian sour milk for breakfast or a drink borscht because it’s just that there are different foods.

Tim Cooper has menghasilkam about 100 recipes, vegetarian menu items for the astronauts will not be provided meat or dairy products. It is impossible to preserve the product long enough to get to Mars.

To ensure that vegetarian diets provide the right amount of protein, the researchers are designing a variety of dishes, including tofu and nuts, including Thailand which do not use pizza cheese topping, but only with carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, green onions, peanuts and sauce homemade spicy enough.

To keep this menu, and make the most of the results of research on food security in Mars, Cooper said NASA astronaut will probably choose one that is solely dedicated to preparing food.

However, because it is still unclear how much time will be spent on food preparation mission planners, Cooper also created an alternative menu is ready to eat, similar to what was done to the crew that do the job for six months on the International Space Station.

For this option, the food must have a storage closet for five years compared with those already available now, which is two years. NASA, the Department of Defense and other agencies examine ways to allow for this, Cooper said.

The ideal is to combine the two options.

“So they will get fresh plants and some foods that we will send it from Earth,” says Cooper.

One of the biggest obstacles, at present, is probably the budget constraints. President Barack Obama’s budget proposal in February canceled its joint US-European robot to Mars in 2016, and the rest from other NASA budget has also been cut.

At this time, Michele Perchonok, project scientist at NASA’s food technology, said that about one million average American dollars spent each year to research and create menus Mars. NASA’s overall budget in 2012 of more than 17 billion U.S. dollars.

He hoped that the imminent mission – about 10 to 15 years before the launch – the budget will increase, allowing for a more in-depth research and conclusive.

This mission is important because it will give scientists a unique opportunity to do any research, ranging from seeking other forms of life and the origin of life on Earth until the effects of partial gravity on bone loss. It will also allow scientists examine the question of food sustainability. “How can we sustain the crew, 100 percent recycle everything in two and a half years?” Perchonok said.

But the first thing that must be addressed: All this would not be realized without food.

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