Pop Quiz: Space Food

Would you be able to survive for months on end with a predetermined menu and a carefully rationed supply of food and beverages?

In space, you can’t run out to the store if a particular food craving hits, and you have to be careful about how much you snack with a limited supply of foodstuffs. Although the menus for astronauts today are drastically improved from what early astronauts consumed while in orbit, NASA’s food scientists are continuously working to improve the taste and nutrition of meals consumed in such an extreme environment as space.

There are many challenges these scientists face, like how to package the food so that it doesn’t take up too much space or so that it isn’t too heavy, or how to extend the shelf life of food for longer duration space missions without comprising its nutritional value. There is much to consider when developing meals that astronauts will eat to sustain them on their journey to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Test out what you know about space food with today’s pop quiz!

Which of the following types of food are used in space?

Space food on tray
Correct! Wrong!

Much of the food astronauts consume in space has undergone extreme processes to be rendered safe for consumption and to extend its shelf life for long duration spaceflight missions. The types of food you will find onboard the ISS fall into one of four categories: Thermostabilized (heat processed to kill any bacteria), rehydratable (food and beverages that have had the water removed to reduce their weight), irradiated (extends shelf life and destroys harmful microorganisms), and natural form (ready to eat foods).

True or False? Vitamin D is a recommended supplement for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

Correct! Wrong!

It's no secret that an astronaut's body faces unique challenges in the extreme environment of space. That's why astronauts sometimes require supplements to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients their body needs to stay healthy in zero gravity. Vitamin D is one of the supplements astronauts take while in space. Typically, a person gets enough Vitamin D from sun exposure, but since an astronaut's spacecraft is shielded from the sunlight to protect them from harmful radiation, they do not get much exposure to sunlight and do not have enough Vitamin D to maintain their bone health.

What is the actual name of NASA's "Orange Drink" used by astronauts since Project Mercury?

Orange drink
Correct! Wrong!

Tang was developed by General Foods Corporation, and later used by NASA for its Mercury astronauts. It was referred to as "Orange Drink," by the space agency and is still used by astronauts on the ISS today.

True or false? There is no chilled water on the ISS.

Correct! Wrong!

True. There is no chilled water on the ISS. Astronauts spending time on station have a choice between ambient, warm or hot water - just not chilled.

How many pick-and-eat vegetable crops have been identified by NASA for growth during long duration spaceflight missions?

Bell Peppers in space
Correct! Wrong!

NASA has identified ten pick-and-eat vegetable crops to grow during future long duration spaceflight missions. They are: spinach, carrots, bell peppers, fresh herbs, cabbages, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, and strawberries. These crops, along with potatoes, soybeans, wheat, rice, peanuts, and dried beans, will likely be grown on the lunar and martian surface during future deep space missions. In fact, NASA has suggested that future space explorers may have to adapt to more of a vegetarian diet while living and working on the Moon and Mars.

Which of the following factors is important when deciding what food goes into space?

Menu tasting
Correct! Wrong!

Safety, nutrition, and palatability are all important factors to consider when crafting an astronaut's menu. According to NASA, early studies have shown that healthy and tasty foods have played a role in reducing an astronaut's stress levels. This could have a significant impact on how a crew member performs and can contribute to a greater sense of well being among the crew.

What amount of nutrition is provided for spacewalks?

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Spacewalking is a strenuous and often lengthy ordeal. So, NASA makes sure astronauts are getting the nutrition they need to stay hydrated and fueled up for their demanding tasks. During Extravehicular activities (EVA), astronauts are provided with eight hours of food and drink, amounting to 500 calories and 38 oz. of water.

Which of the following spinoffs came from NASA space food research?

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While scientists and researchers worked to extend the shelf life of foods for astronauts, and meet each space explorer's dietary needs, solutions were found to aid people on Earth. Some of these NASA spinoffs included hot plates, an electrically heated and insulated dish that could serve as both oven and plate for the food of hospital patients, Formulaid for babies, and compact emergency food rations.

How many liters of recycled sweat and urine was NASA astronaut Scott Kelly estimated to have consumed during his year in space?

Correct! Wrong!

With limited resources onboard the ISS, recycling becomes quite important. That means even sweat and urine get recycled and processed into drinking water for the crew. According to NASA, it was estimated that NASA astronaut Scott Kelly consumed around 730 liters of recycled sweat and urine during his yearlong mission in space. Now, that's extreme!

Pop Quiz: Space Food
Nice try!

So close! Want to learn more about space food? Click here. And don't miss our highly interactive summer exhibit, Beyond Human Limits, which explores the parallels between astronaut training and extreme sports.
Nice job!

Great job! Want to learn more about space food? Click here. And don't miss our highly interactive summer exhibit, Beyond Human Limits, which explores the parallels between astronaut training and extreme sports.

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