Why Future Astronauts Will Need To Cook

For the HI-SEAS project in 2012, NASA built a 1,200 square-foot geodesic dome atop Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano, then recruited six volunteers to live there for four months as if they were astronauts on Mars. That meant sleeping in cramped spaces, rationing water, and wearing full spacesuits during their once-a-week trips beyond the dome. It also meant eating like astronauts, which was the main focus of the project: would it be better for future Martian travelers to eat packaged food or to cook their own meals? Anyone who has eaten a TV dinner knows the strengths and weaknesses of pre-packaged meals, but on a multi-year mission, every weakness is amplified. Repetition in the form of instant meals can cause boredom, and boredom can cause a host of problems, including inattention, depression, malnutrition, and sleep problems, all of which pose serious risks to space missions. To add variety and creativity to mealtimes, HI-SEAS participants experimented with recipes that people submitted over social media, such as Moroccan tagine, salmon patties, and quinoa-coconut bars. "There's...been a lot of really good cooked dishes," HI-SEAS commander Angelo Vermeulen told Astrobiology Magazine. "Some of our crew members are accomplished cooks, and every week there are different surprises." Combined with other efforts to grow vegetables in space, the future of cooking on Mars looks bright. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Historically, space food has been made for the short term. Food on a mission to Mars would have to last for years. 00:51

  2. In a call for recipe submissions, the HI-SEAS site received suggestions such as spicy veggie rolls and Cajun jambalaya. 01:32

  3. Spices and hot sauce are an essential part of any space mission for two reasons. 02:16

Written by Curiosity Staff July 8, 2016

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