Food on the Way to Mars

July 7, 2011

Taking food out of the earth’s atmosphere is hazardous because the faster formation of bacteria and mold quickly makes the food not suitable for eating. This is one of the problems that NASA is trying to solve in order to provide our space workers who will be traveling to Mars with more healthy, nutritious and safe food, instead of eating food paste in tubes and gelatin-coated, bite-sized cubes.

According to NASA Advanced Food Technology (AFT) food program manager, Michele Perchonok, Ph.D., the team need to create a special packaging system that could safely preserve ready-to-eat meals in space. Cooking is not allowed in space ships so the meals have to be prepared here before they leave the planet. Our astronauts need to bring with them at least 180 different foods and beverages that could last for more than five years. All food has to be packed in plastics. Foil is not an option because of its heavy weight and because it is not suitable with microwave sterilization in space.

As of now, the AFT team has developed seven meat products. Aside from developing healthy and nutritious food and drinks, they need to research a technology that could purify and recycle wastewater. The AFT team, which has 33 full-time researchers, is hoping that they will have enough time, resources, and energy to plan meals well for the Mars mission in 2035.

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