NASA Cooks Up New Chow for Mars Mission

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2009 3:31 PM CDT
This image made available by NASA on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007, shows Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov preparing food in the galley of the international space station during a farewell ceremony for the crew...   (AP Photo/NASA)
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(Newser) – Of all the hurdles NASA must overcome in order to reach its goal of getting humans to Mars by 2030, keeping the astronauts fed may be one of the most challenging, the Los Angeles Times reports. The agency’s food scientist must devise meals that are light and nutritious and have a 5-year shelf life—much longer than any space-bound food has had to last before.

Typical freeze-drying isn’t feasible because reconstituting it requires water, which will be in short supply on the Mars mission. Instead, agency scientists are working with technologies that crush bacteria by subjecting the food to intense pressure, or incinerate them with a short blast of microwave radiation. NASA is even toying with growing fresh produce on board. "That would really add to the quality of life," a scientist says.