Dailybhaskar.com | Last Modified - Jul 17, 2012, 05:34 PM IST
New Delhi: Gone are the days when the astronauts had to squeeze food out of tubes to eat inside their space ship sans gravity. Much of the food astronauts eat these days comes in packages, which they cut open and pour into bowls and on plates. A full meal for a crew of six-eight can be cooked and ready to eat in about an hour. And what about beverages? Astronauts can drink coffee, tea and sodas by mixing powder with water.
NASA's Advanced Food Technology (AFT) project, a group of three scientists led by Mr Cooper, is building a menu for a planned journey to Mars in the 2030s.
NASA reports say it will likely take six months to get to the Earth-sized planet and astronauts are planned to stay there for 18 months. It will take another six months to return to Earth. Considering this, the space ship must have a stock of food for six-eight astronauts for a three-year period that too well preserved, safe and nutritious.
Interestingly, we don't have the option to send a vehicle every six months to Mars and send more food as we do for International Space Station.
Unlike other missions like ISS and Moon, where the lack of gravity means smell and taste are impaired and thus the food is bland, on Mars, there is a little gravity, allowing NASA to consider significant changes to the current space menu.
Travel to Mars opens the possibility of adding more to the menu and considering the option of food preparation on board the ship and Mars as well.
The astronauts can do things like chop vegetables and a little cooking. It will allow them to actually have live plants, fresh fruits and vegetables. Cooper's team has come up with about 100 recipes, all vegetarian, because the astronauts will not have dairy or meat products available. It isn't possible to preserve those products long enough to take to Mars.