On NASA's Mars Menu: Thai Pizza, Martian Veggies

Astronauts on the 3-year mission could grow some of their own produce
By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2012 3:50 PM CDT
NASA's Advanced Food Technology Project manager Michele Perchonok, right, and Lockeed Martin Sr. Research Scientist Maya Cooper, try a pizza recipe.   (Michael Stravato)
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(Newser) – Here's a real head scratcher: How do you feed a crew of six to eight astronauts on a mission to Mars that will last almost three years? It's a question NASA is working at already, even though the mission won't happen for at least another 10 to 15 years, reports the AP. But the prospect of sustaining a crew for so long brings plenty of opportunities for food pioneering—like a "Martian greenhouse" where crew members would grow their own fresh fruits and veggies (in mineral-laden water, not Martian soil).

At the International Space Station, NASA is able to deliver regular shipments of freeze-dried foods, but that won't be possible on the Mars mission. On the flip side, astronauts at the ISS are limited by the lack of gravity, but Mars has a small gravitational pull, making chopping and food preparation a possibility. Scientists say this is a good thing, as fresh, prepared food is more nutritious than freeze-dried, and a variety of food options will make life easier. Scientists have already planned about 100 vegan menu items—since dairy and meat have such short shelf lives—including a cheeseless Thai pizza covered in veggies and a spicy sauce.

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