Freshly Baked Bread On Mars? Not As Far-Fetched As You May Think!

By Meera Dolasia on June 11, 2012

CCSS NAS-1 NAS-4 NCSS-3 NCSS-7 Word Search

Mention Space cuisine and images of freeze dried pre-packaged bland food come to mind. However, astronauts for most part don't seem to care - They have more exciting things to ponder over, than what's on the menu. But if scientists are planning to go on excursions to Mars and beyond, this shrink-wrapped cuisine will not be the ideal solution and, it has nothing to do with taste.

There are two reasons for this. First of course is the astronomical (literally) cost of transporting anything to outer Space - Currently, a single pound of food shipped to the International Space Station costs $10,000 USD. So, one can only imagine how prohibitive it will be, to send it all the way to Mars.

And, even if the cost factor can be overcome, there is another issue to consider - Since sending emergency supplies is not an option, how to fit enough food into the already tight shuttle space to last the astronauts for two to three years which, is the estimated time it will take to get to Mars and back. Given how much room pre-packaged food with all its shrink wrapping takes, this could be a tricky task.

Therefore, NASA scientists have been trying to come up with possible solutions. One of the most obvious ones is carrying raw materials in bulk and cooking it along the way and, on the red planet. However, given the limited space, energy constraints and the zero gravity situation, that could be a little challenging. Now, Scientists may actually have their first fresh menu item - Bread!

The brilliant idea was not the brainchild of a Space food scientist but that of high school student Sam Wilkinson. The 16-year-old submitted it as his entry for NASA's recently held two-day Space Apps Challenge that invited participants from all over the world to come up with creative solutions to aid future space exploration missions or help improve life on earth.

Entitled 'Aeration & Low Temperature Baking', the bread recipe entails sealing a mixture of water and carbon dioxide in 2.5 atmospheres (the same as an average soda bottle) chamber. The carbon dioxide dissolves in the water forming carbonic acid and remains in steady state as long as the pressure is maintained. When the astronaut is ready to bake, all he/she has to do is add flour to the mixture and release the pressure. This in turn, will help release the carbon dioxide molecules (similar to how gas bubbles pop out when a soda bottle is opened). However, instead of escaping, the gas will be absorbed by the dough, causing it to rise nicely in a mere 1.8 seconds - Much faster than the traditional method that uses yeast.

However, getting the dough right is just half the challenge - Baking it inside a power-strapped Mars ship is the other. For that, the young student came up with another innovative solution - Cooking it in a sealed, extremely low temperature oven at about 120°C (250°F). Known as the 'crock-pot' method, it does take longer than a conventional oven, but time is probably not that crucial to the astronauts making the long journey to the red planet.

Sealing the dough also takes care of not only retaining the moisture, but also, a more serious issue - that of crumbs flying around the zero-gravity space station and causing irreparable damage to the space craft. In fact that, is the reason why early astronauts ate sandwiches coated with gelatin and why the International Space Station astronauts now stick to tortillas.

Though this innovative entry, still a work in progress, did not impress the judges enough to get a winning spot, it may end up being one of the best solutions for feeding the astronauts if the journey to Mars and beyond ever becomes a reality. The one question that remains? What to eat the bread with!

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TwitterShare on tumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on PinterestShare on RedditShare on Edmodo
68 Comments
to use your custom avatar.
  • Candy_Crunch 1/19/2014
    it looks good and tasty but i wouldn't want to eat it because the that are in it looks like supper gross!!!
    • Candy_Crunch1/19/2014
      it looks good and yummy but the things its made out of is supper gross!!! B) BP
      • Candy_Crunch1/12/2014
        mmmmmmmmmm that looks really really good ( i hungry and i want to eat it )
        • hihi11/26/2013
          this is very good i want to eat it
          • tomatepodrido
            tomatepodrido2/15/2013
            MONEY wasting,to much money,too expensive.
            • icecreamcake
              icecreamcake1/9/2013
              The bread took so many money!But I want to try the bread and share with my best friends.
              • weirdo12/6/2012
                lol, weird
                • fwoof316
                  fwoof31612/4/2012
                  i <3 those brave astronauts!!!!! (i actually wanted to be one when i was like 5)
                  • julesrules
                    julesrules11/11/2012
                    coolers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                    • lana9/12/2012
                      cool

                      Vocabulary

                      prohibitive

                      Most Popular Articles

                      And The World's Favorite Number Is . . .
                      Grumpy Cat's Purr . . . fect 2nd Birthday!
                      Overweight Aquarium Turtle Is Placed On A Diet!
                      Kansas City Zoo Chimps Stage 'Madagascar' Style Escape
                      Surprise! Giant Pandas Love Sweets Too!
                      Is The Five-Second Rule Valid? Depends On Who You Ask!
                      Think Fairies Are Real? So Does This Professor
                      The Virtually Indestructible Water Bear
                      Minecraft As A Mandatory Subject In School? Sweet!
                      Boo Mania Sweeps Over America (And The World)!
                      Are You Ready To 'Gangnam Style'?
                      Video Of The Week - World's Youngest Successful Singer!

                      Latest Comments

                      amygenius
                      amygenius wrote:

                      wish i could live in one of thos...
                      Seattle's Park Passive House Tak...

                      amygenius
                      amygenius wrote:

                      We are saving a lot of energy an...
                      Seattle's Park Passive House Tak...

                      amygenius
                      amygenius wrote:

                      It is amazing because we can pre...
                      U.S. Naval Research Scientists C...

                      otter
                      otter wrote:

                      That is interesting, but they sh...
                      Researchers Claim That Biting In...

                      ALA