The Martian Menu

A recent article on CBC tells us something interesting about the Red Planet. It seems that the good folks at NASA’s Advanced Food Technology Project are planning a menu that astronauts will be taking with them to Mars. It’s all part of a planned mission that will be taking place in 2030, involving six to eight astronauts with an expected duration of six months.

This is no easy feat, but it’s further complicated by the fact that once there, the astronauts will not be able to be resupplied at regular intervals. Yes, unlike the ISS, they can’t just send shuttled loaded with freeze dried food. Luckily, NASA knows that Mars low gravity means that once there, astronauts will be able to prepare their own food. Things things like chopping vegetables and boiling water with a pressure cooker are possible there, unlike in a zero-g environment.

So in addition to planning a travel menu, NASA is planning on equipping the mission with the means to create a “Martian greenhouse” upon their arrival. This would include a variety of fruits and vegetables — from carrots to bell peppers — kept in a hydroponic solution, meaning they would be planted in mineral-laced water instead of soil. The astronauts would care for their garden and then use those ingredients, combined with others, such as nuts and spices brought from Earth, to prepare their meals.

Not bad. And an improvement over a space menu for one simple reason. Zero-g has an effect on taste and smell. Yes, zero gravity seems to impair these things, making food taste bland. So a spicy red pepper sauce and a chili and oil sauce, when eaten in space, are pretty much paste. Not cool…

This research is an important step in ushering in the age of colonization. Much like the recent surveys which discovered of water on the moon, and tested its gravity and for minerals, it’s the sort of nuts and bolts planning that will one day go into real mission planning. First the Moon, then Mars, then Ganymede, Europa, Ceres, Titan and Oberon. All bodies with gravity that could be settled in the not-too-distant future, and that’s just within our solar system! Given the time, resources and technology, the universe really is the limit!


17 thoughts on “The Martian Menu

  1. I’m sure that will beat squeezing mush from a packet, or eating dried pellets!

    Very cool news! Now we just have to hope that some administration doesn’t come along and drop kick it out of the ‘possibility’ zone. 😉

    1. Yikes, not sure. Nanotechnology is one of those things; could be today, could be tomorrow, could be by 2100. It requires that we first come up with a means to construct machines of such tiny size, which is feasible, just not commercially affordable or practical yet.

      1. Bingo. Of course, the big question is, once we are able to develop nanotech, the Technology Singularity is likely to happen then and there. Just about anything would be possible, including terraforming entire planets, building cities out of pure dirt, prolonging life indefinitely. Big changes, and no going back unless we destroyed them all…

        Speaking of which, didn’t I extend an offer to join my writer’s group and help us work on our anthology? Most of this comes up in that.

  2. I had no idea there was a mission planned. As soon as I started reading your post I called my son into the room.
    “Boy,” I said, (I call the boy Boy), “this is your chance. Get ready. We’re making this dream come true. You’re going to the moon!”
    You know, when he was eight years old, he entered a story about going to space and landing on the moon for the PBS Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest (Levar Burton) and he won runner up and was given awards and filmed and the whole deal. I remember helping him write and illustrate that story.
    I still dream of that for him. I still want that.

      1. No. He didn’t meet Levar. He didn’t show. I think the Boy would decline. Alas he has no faith in his skills and summer classes have him busy. But I’ll ask for certain.

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