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Food For Mars

September 12, 2011

NASA nutritionists face a delicious challenge when planning what astronauts will eat on a mission to Mars.


What to eat in space…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

During the Apollo missions, astronauts ate pre-packaged meals on their way to and from the Moon. But a manned mission to Mars would take three years round-trip, so a more lightweight, nutritious, and sustainable approach to dining could be key. Nutritionist Maya Cooper of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston says that may mean growing food in mid-flight.

MAYA COOPER (NASA Johnson Space Flight Center):
The greatest thing that we’re looking at for the Mars mission is actually moving to a bioregenerative food system, where the crew is actually responsible for gardening, growing a large portion of crops that they would need to sustain themselves.

She says the best candidates for a trip to the Red Planet include dwarf varieties of high yield crops, like tomatoes, carrots, soybeans, and strawberries. And future astronauts will have to become master hydroponic gardeners in space.

You don’t have to worry about the freshness of the food because you just picked it.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.