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Healthy Food Options for NASA Mars Mission Being Considered Now

Posted Jul 28 2012 8:06pm
Will NASA astronauts have healthy food options on their Mars mission 30 years from now?  During the six month trip to the red planet, the crew will choose from more than a hundred different freeze-dried and prepackaged selections on board. However, when they reach the surface of Mars, the six to eight member NASA team will be able to cultivate fresh, healthy food. This is not possible on the journey because of the lack of gravity, but Mars has enough gravity for growing things like herbs, fruits, spices, potatoes and vegetables.

Maya Cooper, senior research scientist with Lockheed Martin in charge of selecting healthy food options for the Mars mission suggests using a hydroponic solution rather than soil to grow fresh produce.  For this, a Martian greenhouse will be necessary.

The second alternative is to do what NASA has been doing for the space station, which means shipping freeze-dried prepackaged foods .  The third option combines the healthy food from a greenhouse with some freeze-dried and prepackaged foods.  This provides the most variety, which is a major consideration for the morale of the astronauts on such a long assignment away from Earth.

After six months floating in space to get there, the first humans on Mars will stay for a year and a half, then return home. The astronaut food available now only lasts two years, so the search is on by NASA and the Department of Defense to find items that last longer, especially healthy food.

Menu choices currently being considered include tofu bacon, sweet potato fries, a tofu mushroom stroganoff and of course, fresh salads.  Nuts and grains could make the journey along with treats like lemon cake or peanut butter cookies. Since raising chickens or cows  is impossible, the first humans on Mars will need to be vegan, so they will need all the natural, healthy vegetarian food they can get.
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