Evolution of Food in Space – Infographic

foodThe famous leap for mankind made by space pioneers of the 1960’s set a path for another, even greater leap that astronauts are about the make in the following decade.

We are currently preparing for a mission that was thought to be possible only in sci-fi books and movies – a journey to Mars. As part of their preparations for Mars, NASA is conducting studies aboard the International Space Station about all the things to anticipate in space. An astronaut that recently returned to Earth after 340 days spent on ISS was one of the stars of the experiment. His name is Scott Kelly, and together with his twin brother who stayed on Earth, he played a major role in determining how our bodies behave in prolonged microgravity conditions.

For example, it’s interesting to note that Mr. Kelly was 1.5 inches taller in space than on Earth. Why is that? Will he “shrink” back to his normal height? In microgravity bodily fluids move up to the upper part of the body, making astronauts congested, affecting their vision and sense of smell, etc. Does this unusual state leave some permanent marks on an astronaut’s body? We’ll find answers to all these questions and more, after Mr. Kelly’s medical tests are analyzed in the upcoming months.

But one thing is certain: among the things astronauts miss the most when they’re in space is home food. To successfully complete their missions, astronauts need to be emotionally and psychologically stable to withstand weightlessness, isolation and other challenges of long space flights. And as surprising as it may seem, NASA’s crew commander Angelo Vermeulen claims that food is absolutely crucial to the psychology of the crew.

The following infographic will take you on a journey through the evolution of food in space, show you the challenges of eating in zero gravity, educate you on space food preparation processes and explain why food is such an important factor in keeping the astronauts sane.

Infographic - Evolution of Food in Space: From Bland Puree to Almost Like on Earth
Why It’s Important to Package and Label Space Food Properly

  • Improper packaging and handling of food can be unsafe and allow bacteria and toxins to spread.
  • Crumbs or food that gets away can harm the equipment and people.
  • Packaging needs to be compact and save space.
  • Astronauts prepare their meals based on instructions on food labels.

Most space food items require preparation, so they need labels with instructions on how much water to insert into the packaging, how long to heat the meal, etc. According to NASA, space food labels include:

  1. item name
  2. manufactured date
  3. instructions for preparing the item in space (if needed)
  4. a barcode for computerized inventory or conducting nutritional study
  5. expiration date
  6. color dots that identify crew members
  7. amount of water to rehydrate foods and time and temp needed

How Space Food Affects Earth Food

Advancements in food packaging preservation and preparation to meet the challenges of space travel resulted in many innovations with commercial products used on Earth. Some examples include:

  • Wraps that were used to protect space food now protect food on grocery shelves.
  • Compressed and freeze-dried foods developed by NASA for campers.
  • New generation of ovens based on equipment for ISS (based on air impingement technology).
  • Hot plates for hospitals based on meal service onboard Apollo.
  • Testing system HACCP (testing food and raw materials for bacteria) now used in commercial food system.
  • Algae based oil containing 2 acids that aid mental and visual development found in human milk was used for food in space. Now they use algae based oil for infant formula as a healthy supplement.

In Conclusion…

From the dawn of civilization on Earth to our future on distant planets, food was and will probably always be one of the most important things for humans, not only for the basic survival, but also for our mental and emotional well-being. Astronauts and NASA scientists know this too well and are putting a strong emphasis on this part of their preparations for Mars.

Source: Evolution of Food in Space – Infographic

Read previous post:
Gazing At The Stars Pays Off For Kevin

KwaZulu-Natal’s Kevin Govender, 38, took the saying “reach for the...

Most Complete Catalogue Ever Of Everything in Our Sky 

We look up into our sky and we think what...

A Green Comet Set To Put An Amazing Night Show

A highly bright green comet is about to put an...