If the U.S. sends a manned mission to Mars, more than just astronauts will be on board.
NASA is planning a mission to the planet in the 2030s, and right now, it’s likely that horticulturalists and chefs will tag along on the journey, along with astronauts and military personnel. The reason for the unusual crew manifest: while pre-packaged food rations have been adequate on previous shuttle missions, the ambitious trip to Mars would require more complex food planning. According to Dr. Maya Cooper, of Nasa’s Space Food Systems Laboratory, more than 7,000 pounds of food per person would be necessary for the five-year flight to the red planet.
One solution to that problem would be to grow food on the space craft, and ultimately establish a garden on Mars. And of course, have expert chefs on hand to prepare innovative meals from the garden’s bounty.
“We need new approaches. Right now, we are looking at the possibility of implementing a bio-regenerative system that would involve growing crops in space and possibly shipping some bulk commodities to a Mars habitat as well. This scenario involves much more food processing and meal preparation than the current food system developed for the space shuttles and the International Space Station,” said Cooper.
NASA has given some thought to the type of crops that might work best for the mission. In addition to being easy to grow and utilizing minimal space, the ideal crops would also act as air and water purifiers. So far, 10 fruits and vegetables have met the requirements: lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, bell peppers, strawberries, fresh herbs and cabbages.
It’s definitely a step in the right direction for making Mars an all-vegan planet.