Since astronauts can probably only stomach so much of that freeze-dried ice cream from museum gift shops, a team of food lab scientists is plotting the menu for a three-year mission to Mars slated to blast off sometime after 2030. The food needs to be light enough, nutritious enough, tasty enough, and durable enough to withstand the journey to the Red Planet, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Imagine having to pack more than 6,570 breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners all at once—enough meals to feed six people every day for more than three years. Imagine preparing all these meals with an allotment of 3.2 pounds of food per person per day, about one-third less than the average American eats each day on Earth. Imagine that each dish needs to have a five-year shelf life. And imagine having to transport all the meals to a dining table 55 million miles away, where cooking equipment will be rudimentary at best.
If there was ever a time you needed comfort food, being 36 million miles away from home is probably one of those times. While NASA has made major advancements over the years (freeze-dried shrimp cocktail and shelf-stable berry cobblers) they still can't seem to concoct zero-gravity pizza—the crust would need to be preserved differently than the toppings. Nor can they make a cheesecake that will survive without hardening. They hope to get the menu squared away by 2015 or 2016.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.