Sunday , October 2 2022

When we go to Mars, here's what we can eat on the way


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Nat Geo created Mars-inspired dishes for a lunch in New York to promote his show, but it is unlikely that astronauts would really eat these exact creations.

Kena Betancur / National Geographic / PictureGroup

Usually I have a ham sandwich for lunch. A few weeks ago I mixed up things and had waygu beef with a crater-shaped ball of spinach, a bald salad with meteoroid croutons and a 3D-printed piece of chocolate.

The delicacies were part of a Mars-inspired menu aimed at showing which astronauts could eat on the long trip to the red planet.

Yes, the food was beautiful, but I was sure there was nothing that food astronauts would eat on a mission to Mars. Still, ongoing research in the kitchen for a trip points to vittles that will go far beyond dull pasta squeezed out of a tube.

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The New York lunch was held as excitement appreciated NASA's InSight Mars landing on Monday, celebrated the second Geo Network's second season in Mars, which is the delective drama about astronauts that creates a new life on Mars and some documentaries that focus on the actual research that entails a mission to Mars.

Michele Perchonok, a food scientist who previously worked on NASA for 17 years, said the space organization has developed food that would need to accommodate astronauts through a 34-month round trip to Red Planet and back.

"If food is not acceptable, [astronauts] may not eat so much, says Perchonok, a valid question that astronauts need to eat in order to complete their jobs. All food served in space must meet the standards to be safe, nutritious and tasty. It must also have a 5- to 7-year sustainability, she said, which is much longer than 18 months of food sustainability at the International Space Station.

"You can predict that one of the menus can be pasta sauce made with tomatoes, peppers and onions," Perchonok said, noting that cherry tomatoes, potatoes and strawberries are possible to bring dwarf plants and a growth chamber.

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Dr. Michele Perchonok is a food scientist who worked for NASA for 17 years.

Kena Betancur / National Geographic / PictureGroup

Other foods that could make the trip would be soybeans, oils, peanuts and similar books.

While early in the process, 3D printing could also be a blessing for the astronauts, Perchonok noted, with the possibility of ethnic dishes like curry being boiled using technology.

"At the International Space Station, Asian, Chinese Food, Some Indian Food, Vegetarian Dishes, Mexican Dishes – There is already a lot. The question is how much supply you need for a Mars mission," said Perchonok.

One thing Perchonok knows astronauts want on their mission: coffee. When attending a workshop during her NASA career, she was given the opportunity to ask the Apollo astronauts how important it was that they had hot water and they unequivocally let her know that it is very important.

"Do not take away our coffee," they said to her.

The second season of National Geographic's March is currently flying on the National Geographic Channel on Monday at 9 o'clock

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