Martians will not be on the menu, but what space travelers will eat on the journey to Mars and back will be prepared in a simulated mission to the Red Planet.
Martians from H.G. Wells War Of The Worlds
Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Hawaii, as well as a nine-member volunteer crew, do hands-on training with a chef in teaching kitchens at Cornell as part of a three-year NASA study designed to develop a healthy, sustainable and enjoyable menu for interplanetary travel.
The mission, dubbed HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation), is part of a study for NASA to determine the best way to keep astronauts well nourished during multiple-year missions to Mars or the moon.
The six-member prime crew was chosen from a group of nine that participated in an intense first phase of testing and training held in mid-June. The three remaining individuals will make up the reserve crew.
Credit: Cornell University
Along with two days of cooking lessons at Cornell’s test kitchens, the volunteers took part in team-building exercises, sensory testing and academic preparation for a trip in early 2013 to live in isolation on a barren lava field in Hawaii.
The individuals selected for the prime crew include:
Oleg Abramov, a research space scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology branch in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Simon Engler, a scientific programmer specializing in robotics currently on an internship at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn.;
Kate Greene, a science and technology journalist, amateur filmmaker and avid open-water swimmer who is a native of Kansas and currently resides in San Francisco, Calif.;
Sian Proctor, a geology professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Ariz.;
Yajaira Sierra-Sastre, a materials scientist and educator who resides in Ithaca, NY, and is currently working with disadvantaged school districts and communities in Puerto Rico; and
Angelo Vermeulen, a biologist, space researcher and visual artist from Belgium.
Select prime and reserve crew members Kate Greene, Chris Lowe, Sian Proctor, Angelo Vermeulen and Yvonne Cagle talk about their participation in the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) study to determine the best way to keep astronauts well nourished during multiple-year missions to Mars or the moon. The study is being conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and Cornell University.
“It was very difficult to narrow the pool down. We had about 150 highly qualified applicants, and pretty much everyone we interviewed would have done very well in the habitat,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor of information and computer sciences at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and member of the research team conducting the study. “We ended up with a fantastic crew, including the reserve crew, who are ready to step in if someone on the prime crew has to leave the study for some reason.”
The reserve crew includes:
Yvonne Cagle, a NASA astronaut and family physician who is currently on faculty and serves as the NASA liaison for exploration and space development with Singularity University in California;n Crystal Spring Haney, a small business owner, personal trainer and at-home mother of two from Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; and Chris Lowe, a space systems engineer from Southeast England who currently resides in Glasgow, Scotland.
The crew will participate in a two-week training session in late 2012 prior to the four-month simulation mission in early 2013. Once they head to Hawaii, the team of volunteers will be required to live and work like astronauts, including suiting up in space gear whenever they venture out of a specially built simulated Martian base.
Each crew member also has a personal project in research or outreach that they will be working on during the mission, in addition to their role in the food study.
This computer-generated view depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater beginning to catch morning light.
The research team includes Binsted and three Cornell scientists: Jean Hunter, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering, Bruce Halpern, professor of psychology and neurobiology and behavior, and post-doctoral associate Bryan Caldwell. The team was also joined by Rupert Spies, chef and senior lecturer at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. Spies led the hands-on kitchen training sessions and will assist in the development of a custom menu for the study.
According to Hunter, one of the biggest food challenges astronauts face is menu fatigue. Over time, they not only tire of eating foods they normally enjoy, but also tend to eat less, which can put them at risk for nutritional deficiency, loss of bone and muscle mass and reduced physical capabilities. The HI-SEAS mission will test whether crew nutrition, food intake and food satisfaction can be improved if crews cook for themselves and will assess the additional resource cost of a crew-cooked food system.
Five of the crew members selected for Mars food mission are, from left, Yvonne Cagle, Kate Green, Yajaira Sierra-Sastre, Sian Proctor and Angelo Vermeulen.
Jason Koski/University Photography
The research team will compare the palatability of available instant foods and food prepared by the crew, and determine whether food preferences change over time. They will also compare the time, power and water required for meal preparation and cleanup for instant and crew-cooked foods, and compile recipes and cooking tips.
For complete crew bios and additional project information, visit http://manoa.hawaii.edu/hi-seas.c
Contacts and sources: