By Rachel Simons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
There is plenty to consider when planning a trip to Mars, but what about the food? What will astronauts eat on the Red Planet and more importantly, how will they ensure each item can actually be cooked in planetary conditions so different from our own?
Inspired by the many planned trips to Mars and their desire to educate, artists Heidi Neilson and Doug Paulson decided to create the Menu for Mars Supper Club in May of last year. In collaboration with Flux Factory, an educational and experimental art facility in Queens, Paulson and Neilson go with club members and various experts to a different restaurant on the first Thursday of every month. While eating, the group discusses a monthly topic pertaining to sustainable Martian living. During this time, they decide which recipes would be the best to take into space.
“Living on Mars would be an enormous change,” says Paulson. “Especially with food. All the enjoyment we get from eating and the cultural ways that we understand food will be entirely different on Mars.”
It’s not just getting to Mars that scientists are worried about, but how future human inhabitants would survive off the supplies they were given. Everything will rise astronomically in cost once they leave the Earth’s atmosphere, so each item, including food supplies, needs to be given careful thought and consideration. Although, there are plans for growing food on Mars as well.
Yet, while it is still up in the air whether a successful Mars colonization mission could happen in only a few years, Neilson says the supper club project has gotten her and others to realize how lucky we are that we live down here.
“We have gotten people to appreciate just what we have here on Earth,” comments Neilson. “There are all these flavors and fresh produce and [as long as it is decomposable] you just put something outside and it will eventually turn to dirt. You can’t do that on Mars.”
Paulson and Neilson say that they are probably done with their restaurant outings, but they are still planning their biggest mission yet for late May: creating their own analog Mars kitchen.
“We will work in a private space in Williamsburg and do our damnedest to approximate Mars conditions inside,” Paulson explains. “We will have this pressurized play kitchen and the recipes we have been collecting from this year of research. We will cook the recipes, taste test them, and then send vacu-packed samples and our findings to NASA and other Mars programs.”
Living on Mars may still be a dream for now, but at least we’ll know what snacks to bring for the trip.