Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Food for Mars - It’s a daunting challenge, NASA says

Eric had a comment, [On the ultimate: "I'll take that to go..." > In further support for a Lunar Base (which would be better at restocking and supplying those traveling further away), you may want to point out a current problem that NASA has with a trip to Mars right now, astronauts eating healthy.  Just take a look at them apples!  Imagine, on top of being cooped up in a small space craft for months, and this is what there is to eat?  Yuck!]

It has been awhile since I had thought about what astronauts had to eat and how that might change for long stays away from home, like at a lunar base or a long trip to Mars.  It is one thing to pack for a trip up the coast by car.  It is even more interesting packing a submarine for 90 days under water, but what do you do when you are in a spaceship for six months or more when you consider the return trip time and any time at a landing site?

Before I left NASA Ames they were working on how to grow your vegetables in space.  I don't know what is happening now.  The shuttle is going away, the ISS may stay up awhile longer but isn't self sufficient, and we aren't talking about humans to the Moon, so I wonder if there will be the political will to continue planing on how to feed astronauts for long duration flights.

Much food for thought and a number of links within the article.  :-)
- LRK -

Food for Mars - It’s a daunting challenge, NASA says

 By Janet Raloff
Web edition : Monday, July 26th, 2010

CHICAGO — Most people find the palatability of in-flight entrees an oxymoron. But even frequent fliers seldom encounter more than a few such meals per week. Astronauts, in contrast, may have to survive months in orbit dining on a really limited menu of processed foods and reconstituted beverages served from oh-so- lamorous plastic pouches.  Luckily, even the International Space Station can restock its pantry several times a year because these foods are relatively perishable. Which explains the problem NASA faces in planning for really long missions — like a trip to Mars.

Astronaut foods may appear indestructible, but many crew favorites don’t retain their nutrition or palatability for even a year, notes Michele Perchonok.

She should know. Perchonok manages not only NASA’s advanced food technology program, but also the development and preparation of foods for shuttle astronauts. At the Institute of Food Technology annual meeting, on July 20, she described NASA’s limited larder.

Foods destined for space shuttle missions must have a shelf life of a year, and 18 months if they’ll be deployed on the International Space Station. Of the roughly 65 foods currently available for stocking spacecraft and deemed really palatable by NASA taste panels, 10 will lose their appeal within a year — turning off-color, mushy or tasteless, she reported. By the end of five years, Perchonok says, “we’re down to seven items.”


Well this sounds like packing a submarine with everything you want to eat.  Try packing for a round trip to Mars.  Where do you throw the wrappers?  And how long will this link remain if we aren't going to send humans to the Moon.
- LRK -

Michele Perchonok, Shuttle Food System Manager

Food is very important to today's astronauts. It provides them with both nutrition and a comfort from home. It's also important to Michele Perchonok. As the shuttle food system manager, Perchonok is responsible for making space food taste good and be good for the crews.

Seven months prior to spaceflight, Perchonok works with NASA astronauts to develop personalized food menus. She conducts taste-tests with shuttle crews in the Space Food Systems Laboratory.  The laboratory, located at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, is responsible for preparing astronauts' meals to fly in space. The lab also researches and develops new foods and packaging that can be flown on future missions.

In addition to working with shuttle missions, Perchonok is the Advanced Food Technology team lead. Advanced Food Technology scientists are researching food for long-duration missions to the moon and Mars. Specifically, food researchers are looking at increasing the shelf life of food by improving packaging. They are also studying the possibility of growing plants on lunar and planetary surfaces.

"Food by definition needs packaging to protect it and keep it safe, and packaging ends up being quite a contributor to trash at the end,"  Perchonok said. "So we're looking at food packaging that would provide us with a long shelf life, because once you go to Mars you need a five-year shelf life on food. But, at the same time, you need to try to minimize the massive volume of the packaging."


Astronauts living on lunar or planetary surfaces will need more than the current food warmer and re-hydration station to prepare fresh foods. Perchonok hopes to provide future astronauts with juicers, food processors and bread- or pasta-makers. Plants like wheat and soybeans can be processed and milled into flour and then used in the galley as food ingredients. "Then we can use the flour to make pasta, bread, cookies or breakfast cereals," she said.

The new food preparation equipment must be small, light-weight and multipurpose. One tool currently being developed will be able to do the work of three.


NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation's future by emphasizing three major education goals -- attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines; strengthening NASA and the nation's future workforce; and engaging Americans in NASA's mission. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations and career ambitions of America's young people, NASA is focused on supporting formal and informal educators to engage and retain students in education efforts that encourage their pursuit of disciplines needed to achieve the Vision for Space Exploration.

Hmmm, . . . .to achieve the Vision for Space Exploration.  ?????

Thanks for looking up with me.
- LRK -

Web Site:
Comments accepted here -
RSS link:
Ruth Marlaire
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-4709/9000
June 27, 2006


NASA to Study Plants to Help Astronauts Grow Food in Space

Someday, astronauts may grow food efficiently in space and use plants to clean spaceship air, thanks to a two-year experiment scheduled aboard the International Space Station.

The next space shuttle mission, STS-121, will carry the Tropi experiment's apparatus into space when the shuttle hurtles into orbit after its July 1 scheduled launch. Scientists will study a weed in the cabbage and mustard family, to see if its roots grow more readily toward red or blue light, according to scientists.

"Arabidopsis thaliana is a common weed, which we've found in our parking lots," said Mike Eodice, the experiment's project manager at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley.  "NASA has selected this plant as a model specimen for space research since the plant's genetic structure has been fully mapped. The plant is also a good research specimen because it is very hearty," Eodice explained.

Researchers will use a small video camera to observe the roots while they grow inside seed cassettes. The cassettes will be housed within a special plant research facility, called the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS), developed by the European Space Agency.

        Hey, NASA! What's for Dinner?
By Glen Golightly
Houston Bureau Chief
posted: 02:50 pm ET
19 August 1999

HOUSTON - Tang, Space Food Sticks and goop squeezed out of a tube remain in many people's minds the sole diet for space travelers.

Things have improved a lot since the 1960s - today's space shuttle crewmembers even have the option of taking shrimp cocktail aloft on missions.

For longer missions though, such as a Moon base or trips to planets,
astronauts will spend part of their time farming, milling and cooking
what they grow.

The food working group at the Advanced Life Support Program works on current issues such as what crews aboard the International Space Station will eat and what to feed the long-term space traveler.

Charles Bourland, Ph.D oversees the group and spends a lot of his time preparing for the International Space Station crews scheduled to begin occupying the station next year.

1,000-day ‘space mission’ will sail the sea
Sailor sees parallels between long-term voyage and life in orbit
 by Tariq Malik
updated 12/30/2005 8:47:42 PM ET

 An extended voyage being likened to long-term space travel is about to set sail right here on planet Earth.

Two sailors are preparing to shove off in a custom-built ship from a New York City pier on 1,000-day trek across the southern Atlantic Ocean. The journey, set to begin in early January, is one part personal challenge and one part mock Mars mission for its captain — New York artist Reid Stowe.

"I’ve been working on this expedition for years," said Stowe, an accomplished sailor since his youth, in an interview. "Right now I’m in ‘go’ mode."




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