A recipe for pretty tasty space food for astronauts

In the not too distant future, humans will be able to travel to Mars or even beyond. These trips to deep space can be very challenging: with current technology, It will take at least seven months to reach the Red Planet.

We must not forget the psychological consequences Astronaut Mental Health Not the physical effects of space radiation. But we need to talk about one fundamental: food.

Astronauts have to eat. And a lot. However, these long-distance astronauts cannot rely solely on prepackaged foods and vitamins, as they do on the International Space Station. Nutrients break down A year later.

Additionally, because of how microgravity affects human metabolism, Astronauts need a lot of energy to function than people on earth. For example, research suggests that a 40-year-old, 70-kg man may need 2,700 calories per day in space instead of 2,000.

That's why during long space missions, at least in part The Astronaut Diet It will come from fresh and renewable crops grown in warehouses.

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Perfect meal for an astronaut: Space salad

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio grows tomatoes on the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio grows tomatoes on the International Space Station.

Koichi Wakata/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

An international team of scientists has calculated ten different combinations Crops that can be grown on deep space missions. The results are published in the journal Food Science & Technology De la American Chemical Society.

In the study, the researchers took into account the nutritional needs of the astronaut, the space such crops would occupy and the amount of water required for each plant.

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A “winning” crop combination has provided the best synergy between nutrition and efficient cultivation. It contains high amounts of vitamins and Plants mature within 50 to 100 days, in addition to taking relatively less. Also, except for the seeds, most parts of each plant are edible.

Using only crops from their successful combination, the scientists A Vegetarian Space Salad RecipeI tried it myself.

How does it taste?

Close-up of space fury

Emily Swaim

I have decided to prepare this dish to judge for myself How about making a space salad? From the future. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was.

This recipe is designed to meet the nutritional value of three male astronauts, each serving approx. 900 calories per serving. Here is a list of materials shared by the studio. What you need to do:

  • 642g sweet potatoes (about 5 small potatoes)
  • 223 grams of pearl barley (about 1 cup)
  • 155 grams of poppy seeds
  • 79 grams of cabbage
  • 63 grams of soy
  • 25 grams of peanuts
  • 18 grams of sunflower seeds

According to Volker Hessel, co-author of the study and professor of sustainable chemical engineering at the University of Adelaide An astronaut eats this food once a week As part of a dish cycle.

I can see myself eating spacebags more often. There is Easy to doIt's made in half an hour and all that protein leaves you feeling satisfied.

Long space flights require special diets

A picture of an astronaut broadcasting from Mars.
A picture of an astronaut broadcasting from Mars.

NASA/Lacey Young

The authors of the study have developed a space salad based on it NASA's Nutritional Guidelines For long spaceflight, computers can be used to calculate a more nutritious and resource-efficient mix.

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In addition to more energy, astronauts also need more vitamins like calcium and magnesium to prevent their skeletons from wearing out in zero gravity. They need potassium for homeostasis, which balances and stabilizes all body systems.

Fortunately, The study was carried out on the International Space Station Nutritional content is recommended Space crops Their topography is similar to that of their relatives. So, we can calculate how much nutrition astronauts would get by eating a space salad. For example, a service may include:

  • 52 grams of poppy seeds provide 749 milligrams of calcium (62% of the recommended daily intake for astronauts).
  • 214 grams of sweet potato provides 807 milligrams of potassium (17% of the daily intake).
  • 75 grams of barley provides 16 milligrams of magnesium (4% of the daily intake).

But of course, not all astronauts need the same diet.

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Future investigations

Astronaut Leland Melvin observes a bubble of water floating in the center deck of the space shuttle Atlantis.
Astronaut Leland Melvin observes a bubble of water floating in the center deck of the space shuttle Atlantis.


Only study systems are designed Male astronauts. Female astronauts may have different nutritional needs.

Therefore, the teachers have said that they are planning to change the meal plans Include female astronauts in future research. Complicating matters further, Hessel said, each team member's body will react differently to the stresses of space.

Besides, An astronaut's dietary requirements may change during a mission. For example, when an astronaut spends an hour outside the International Space Station performing an orbital mission, 2020 NASA Nutrition Guidelines They recommend eating 200 calories more for the day.

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Computer simulations of the study should allow this Create new diets based on needs. “We can provide recommendations for new requirements practically the same day,” comments Hessel. Of course, a spacecraft's food supply must be flexible enough to take these changes into account.

And the meat?

Lab-grown meat could one day be used to feed astronauts on deep space missions.
Lab-grown meat could one day be used to feed astronauts on deep space missions.

Good pictures

Don't worry meat lovers: The future of space doesn't have to be vegan. In the past, astronauts have eaten dried shrimp cocktail, brisket, and even teriyaki chicken.

Space explorers of the future could eat lab-grown meat, which is currently available Full FDA approval process And will be available in restaurants soon.

Scientists are also working Breeding fish in space Astronauts can eat fresh meat. The authors of the study said Fish may be the best part of a space ecosystemBecause astronauts can feed them leftover plant matter and then collect their poop as compost.

If you want to add meat to your space salad, I recommend it Go with a lighter option like chicken or tuna. But if your astronaut heart yearns for more exploration, try your favorite salad dressing.

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