Countdown: Mars Food Mission Researchers Return to Earth

The countdown has begun.

Six researchers who have spent more than 100 days inside a remote habitat to simulate a long-duration space journey are finally returning to Earth.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

About 700 applicants vied for six spots in the HI-SEAS mission, which began in April and will conclude on August 13.  These Earth-based researchers have been living and working like astronauts, including suiting up in space gear whenever they venture outside a simulated Martian base and cooking meals from a specific list of dehydrated and shelf-stable food items.

HI-Seas Crew Photo by Ian

HI-Seas Crew Photo by  Sian

The HI-SEAS study, led by Cornell University and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is analyzing new types of food and novel food preparation strategies to keep astronauts well-nourished for space exploration.  The work is funded by the NASA Human Research Program.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

The food study is designed to simulate the living and working experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and to compare two types of food systems – crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared – as thoroughly as possible in the context of a four-month Mars analog mission.

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

“One possible solution to handle menu fatigue would be to allow astronauts to cook their own food instead of eating pre-prepared food day after day,” says crew member Angelo Vermeulen, one of the six researchers inside the HI-SEAS habitat, which is located on the Big Island.

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

At the end of the study, researchers will announce the winners of the HI-SEAS recipe contest.  Winning recipes in a number of categories will be featured on the HI-SEAS website.

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

The public is invited to follow along with the “Meals for Mars” videos, researcher blogs, and test recipes featured at http://hi-seas.org/ or on Twitter (@HI_SEAS) or Facebook.

 

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