Nuances of Food Preparation for Astronauts

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Astronauts do not only rely on food for their physical well being. Food provides emotional benefits and can lessen the psychological effects of being in space for extended periods of time. However, food on the International Space Station must be specifically prepared for space travel and is not exactly like the food on Earth. Due to microgravity in space, ovens used on Earth do not work correctly on the ISS. On Earth, warm air in an oven rises and then falls as it cools which creates a continuous circulation. However, in space, the air would not rise and fall due to the lack of gravity.

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Therefore, the heat would not distribute evenly which is needed to cook food. Scientists combatted this problem by creating an oven that distributes the heat evenly by putting heating elements all around the oven’s interior. This innovation allows astronauts to bake in space for the first time. Nevertheless, scientists are still trying to solve many issues that come with trying to cook in microgravity. There is a serious risk of fire, and astronauts would only be able to bake frozen food because it would be impossible to make something from scratch with fresh ingredients in space. Despite these challenges, scientists believe that on a cargo mission in the fall of 2019, astronauts will be able to bake their first ever batch of cookies on the ISS. These cookies can provide a sense of normalcy and comfort to astronauts and make them feel more at home.

Astronauts on long missions in space can feel homesick and miss the comforts of Earth. The oven this article discusses can provide astronauts with a way to add a normal activity into their time on the ISS. Astronauts miss the smell of comforts like fresh-baked cookies when they are so far from home, and this oven could make them feel more comfortable. This important because reminders like this may be what astronauts need in order for them to go on longer trips without missing Earth too much. Additionally, this oven can inspire new technology that may provide benefits to space travel. For example, astronauts may be able to use this oven for cooking different foods that are healthier for them or take up less space. This oven can provide many benefits to astronauts.

I love to bake and nothing makes me happier than the smell of fresh baked cookies. This smell provides a feeling of happiness and familiarity. Food can provide immense comfort to people, especially those who are so far from Earth and missing home. Astronauts have to deal with stress and loneliness, and the recognizable smell or taste of a fresh baked dessert may help to remind them of home and make them feel less homesick. I believe this technology is beneficial because astronauts have a hard job and this technology can improve their time on the ISS. Something as simple as cookies can help astronauts to feel happier and help them get through long, stressful missions in space.

After reading this article I am questioning how can scientists can use this technology to improve the quality or quantity of food that astronauts bring to space. This oven is the first oven that can actually fully cook food in space. Although right now the oven can only cook specific foods, scientists are working on different oven designs that will be able to cook a greater variety of foods. This technology can provide astronauts with different food than they are able to eat now. For example, I am wondering if it would be beneficial to take raw food rather than dehydrated food because it may take up less space or provide added nutritional benefits to the astronauts. Also, astronauts may be able to take up lots of different kinds of food, so they do not get sick of eating the same foods almost everyday.

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