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NASA Working on Mars Menu

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the we're-going-to-need-a-bigger-cooler dept.

Mars 220

DevotedSkeptic writes in with a story about the work going into feeding astronauts on a mission to Mars. "The menu must sustain a group of six to eight astronauts, keep them healthy and happy and also offer a broad array of food. That's no simple feat considering it will likely take six months to get to the Red Planet, astronauts will have to stay there 18 months and then it will take another six months to return to Earth. Imagine having to shop for a family's three-year supply of groceries all at once and having enough meals planned in advance for that length of time. 'Mars is different just because it's so far away,' said Maya Cooper, a senior research scientist with Lockheed Martin who is leading the efforts to build the menu. 'We don't have the option to send a vehicle every six months and send more food as we do for the International Space Station.'"

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Deja Vu... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245245)

Is it just me or are the rest of you getting a feeling of deja vu as well?

Day 76 (4, Funny)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245309)

Human flesh, human eye ball, and human bone, with a just a sprinkle of martian dust.

Re:Day 76 (3, Funny)

craigminah (1885846) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245853)

I found NASA's yet unreleased book How to Serve Man which on the surface seems to be a book on how to work cooperatively with man...I haven't bothered to read it yet.

It won't happen anyway (-1, Flamebait)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245601)

Until a propulsion method is invented that can get humans to mars and back in a few weeks the whole premise is ridiculous. No SANE person is going to volunteer to spend a year in a capsule with 18 months on a dust ball with an unbreathable atmosphere and lethal UV radiation. Sure, you'll find some volunteers but I guaranteed they'll all be mentally unbalanced and would probably chicken out at the last moment anyway. And don't anyone compare it with old sailing ship voyages - its nothing like that. On a ship you have gravity, fresh air, you can go outside, stop off at places and even swim. The nearest analogy would be to the conditions the poor slaves were kept in on atlantic voyages down in the hold.

Re:It won't happen anyway (5, Insightful)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245647)

Dude...

Every single astronaut is close to your definition. They sit on top of some megatons capable explosive fuel and light that candle, hoping to get back in home without being burned on the re-entrance.

Why?

Because they think that there's things more important than their lives.

Never underestimate the human being. Not all of us are selfish bastards.

Re:It won't happen anyway (1)

jimmetry (1801872) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245683)

Still partially selfish... People love the idea of being recognised for crazy things most won't do. Same as Guiness World Record holders.

Re:It won't happen anyway (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245891)

Don't forget the adrenaline rush.

Re:It won't happen anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245919)

OP makes a valid point, and you're not an astronaut so don't pretend to speak for them.

Re:It won't happen anyway (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246291)

On the other being, being you one of the selfish bastards, rest assured I'm keeping you correctly accounted.

Re:It won't happen anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41246127)

Or, the more likely reason - they are adrenaline junkies.

Re:It won't happen anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245949)

Wow, you're dumb. It's everything like that. Taking a chance to better humanity AND be famous for it is a wonderful thing. So what if you have to be a little different to do it?

I, for one, would definitely consider doing it if not to get off this dirtball planet. Too many problems with humans as it stands, anyway. Give me all the video games, movies, tv shows and music that I want as well as companionship and I'll really think about it.

Re:It won't happen anyway (5, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246125)

Until a propulsion method is invented that can get humans to mars and back in a few weeks the whole premise is ridiculous. No SANE person is going to volunteer to spend a year in a capsule with 18 months on a dust ball with an unbreathable atmosphere and lethal UV radiation. Sure, you'll find some volunteers but I guaranteed they'll all be mentally unbalanced and would probably chicken out at the last moment anyway. And don't anyone compare it with old sailing ship voyages - its nothing like that. On a ship you have gravity, fresh air, you can go outside, stop off at places and even swim. The nearest analogy would be to the conditions the poor slaves were kept in on atlantic voyages down in the hold.

Well, perhaps count me as insane, as I would volunteer for such a trip to Mars in a heartbeat.

Well, if I had to spend a year long voyage to Mars trapped in a capsule the size of a phone booth I would be a little bit more upset and concerned, and there is no way I would travel to Mars in the Orion capsule alone and in free fall the whole way, but there are other ways to make the trip a little more reasonable.

As for comparing a trip to Mars with a voyage from London to San Francisco in the 19th Century or even just across the North Atlantic in the 17th Century, I think the analogy is pretty appropriate. No, you didn't just jump into the water whenever you felt like it (assuming that you could even swim... that was not even a common skill for most people of that era). Regardless, I think you are making too many excuses for why it won't work.

If you want to see at least one well thought out proposal in terms of how somebody has suggested a trip to Mars can happen, here is a video for you to look at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx6cioPdPZQ [youtube.com]

For myself, I would prefer to travel to Mars in a NAUTILUS-X [wikipedia.org] spacecraft. There are propulsion methods for getting to Mars that are effective in cutting that trip down to just a few weeks like you are suggesting, but most of them involve nuclear energy as an energy source of some kind. There are so many anti-nuclear nuts that complain each time NASA sends up a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (usually called simply an RTG) that assembling a full fledged nuclear reactor in space would be seen as public enemy #1 and would kill any attempt to even try. These same idiots would likely complain even if it was a nuclear fusion reactor instead, as that dreaded "nuclear" word would be used still. The trick for travel to Mars quickly is to simply have a high density energy source. Mars is just on the edge of what you can do with chemical energy in terms of using things like liquid oxygen and something else like hydrogen or methane. That is the reason why it takes so long to travel to Mars.

Re:It won't happen anyway (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41246171)

Submarine duty is a better comparison, two to three months without surfacing is typical.

Easy... (5, Funny)

Smartcowboy (679871) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245255)

Easy... [e-monsite.com]

Re:Easy... (2)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245677)

Easier... [bbc.co.uk]

Warning: This product is not endorsed by the manufacture.

To quote my boss... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41246229)

It's not rocket salad.

MREs (4, Funny)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245261)

'nuff said [wikipedia.org]

Re:MREs (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245275)

From the article you linked to:

They are intended to be eaten for a maximum of 21 days (the assumption is that logistics units can provide superior rations by then),

21 days is a lot less than the several months of a Mars journey.

Re:MREs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245335)

Pfft, just stick'em in the freezer. It's what I do.

Hell, better yet, its cold outside, put'em out there. (its not cold, its inert-ish, just don't spill any sun on it)

Re:MREs (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245349)

I just wanted to point out the shelf life is 3 years (enough for the 2.5 planned years of a Mars mission).

It's an acquired taste.

If you have too cultured of a palate, and you're used to multi-course meals with palate cleansers [about.com] in between, you probably won't last a day with MREs, much less 21.

Re:MREs (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245401)

You can live on MRE's indefinately, but one needs hookers, blow and ammo as essential supplements.

Re:MREs (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245587)

Bah, MRE's are for pussies.

Mainstay 3600 calorie bar is less space than 1 MRE and counts as TWO meals. Enjoy your lemony doom for 180 days....

Re:MREs (4, Funny)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245511)

From the article you linked to:

They are intended to be eaten for a maximum of 21 days...

21 days is a lot less than the several months of a Mars journey.

No, you read this wrong...

What that means is; it could take you up to 21 days to choke one of these things down.

Meal, Ready to Eat (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245497)

People in the military say that MRE is three lies in one acronym.

.

No option to resupply? (4, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245269)

We don't have the option to send a vehicle every six months and send more food as we do for the International Space Station.'"

No option to resupply? I figured that We would be sending 2-4 tons of supplies to restock every 2-3 months. I mean, it's one thing to hop in the Soyuz capsule and retrograde burn back home, but at the rate things break on the ISS, I can't imagine less than two restocking missions being sent to the mars mission en route, with another set of supplies being sent down every 3 months while they're on the planet. Things break, people get sick, shit happens.

Re:No option to resupply? (4, Insightful)

kav2k (1545689) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245293)

Problem is, the opportunity for a reasonable flight path to Mars is not always there. Windows can be small and far apart.

Re:No option to resupply? (4, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245475)

Well, a resupply module does not need a reasonable flight path, it just needs to be there in time for the astronauts to utilize it.

Re:No option to resupply? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245815)

Problem is, the opportunity for a reasonable flight path to Mars is not always there. Windows can be small and far apart.

Obligatory "they shouldn't be using windows anyway"

Re:No option to resupply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41246383)

Why was this modded funny? There are times when mars is close to earth, and there are times when it is far away. It's not as if mars orbits the earth the way the moon does and is always close.

Re:No option to resupply? (4, Interesting)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245303)

Actually, there IS an option to re-supply. Carry a year's worth onboard, and send an unmanned cargo pod ahead to park in Mars orbit. Put an additional 12 or so months food in it.

Re:No option to resupply? (5, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245423)

" Carry a year's worth onboard, and send an unmanned cargo pod ahead to park in Mars orbit."

Orbit? Put it on the ground, perhaps it will lure out the Mars-bears.

Re:No option to resupply? (2)

Yoda222 (943886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245589)

Better, put a cargo on the ground for the 18 month camping, and another one in orbit for the return flight.

Re:No option to resupply? (2)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246427)

Once you lure out the Mars bears with the Mars bars, the food problem should be solved (given they brought along enough ammo).

Re:No option to resupply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245633)

I thought they already did this with opportunity when they failed to burn all the fuel in the hover stage thingy. People don't like combustible fuels?

Re:No option to resupply? (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245311)

Indeed. I thought one of the benefits of the plasma engine was the ability to send large payloads very slowly to a destination for almost peanuts, while astronauts could arrive there very quickly with almost nothing. The linch-pin is that you send the payloads a year or two before the astronauts launch, so they arrive at a similar date.

Re:No option to resupply? (4, Insightful)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245425)

And if the resupply ship has an incident that somehow prevents its contents from being usable if/when it arrives at the rendezvous, the burn to insert it into Mars orbit fails perhaps, what's the fallback plan going to be? The parameters of a manned Mars mission with current technology pretty much dictate that we'd need to construct and outfit a suitably sized vessel in LEO, meaning bringing such things as landing modules, Mars rovers, supplies etc., up to the craft in multiple launches during construction. That's a lot of mass to LEO, just for the mechanical side of things, so fitting a couple of tons worth of food and other supplies probably isn't going to be a major problem by comparison.

I'm guessing that NASA has done the math and figured out that it's easier, and possibly cheaper, to send all the food up to LEO and then transfer it to Mars in one go along with the astronauts than it is to engage in multiple interplanetary transfers, each with an orbital rendezvous and risk of failure.

Re:No option to resupply? (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245565)

And if the resupply ship has an incident that somehow prevents its contents from being usable if/when it arrives at the rendezvous, the burn to insert it into Mars orbit fails perhaps, what's the fallback plan going to be?

The same as before, according to some? I.e. suicide pills, or an equivalent like a gradual poisoning of the air administered by the mission captain.

Or just sell the TV/video rights to the next few weeks to the highest bidder. It should be interesting.

But anyhow, we can send ships well ahead of time and not send the flesh load until the supply ships have actually landed safely. It's not like the natives are going to raid and plunder them.

Re:No option to resupply? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245669)

And if the resupply ship has an incident that somehow prevents its contents from being usable if/when it arrives at the rendezvous, the burn to insert it into Mars orbit fails perhaps, what's the fallback plan going to be?

The same as before, according to some? I.e. suicide pills, or an equivalent like a gradual poisoning of the air administered by the mission captain.

Why not good old long standing Navy tradition? Shortest straw ...

Re:No option to resupply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245583)

I'm guessing that NASA has done the math and figured out that it's easier, and possibly cheaper, to send all the food up to LEO and then transfer it to Mars in one go along with the astronauts than it is to engage in multiple interplanetary transfers, each with an orbital rendezvous and risk of failure.

On the other hand, the boredom and cabin fever will probably be the greatest obstacle to mission success. It is not the same as orbiting the beautiful blue orb for months and talking to your family whenever you feel like it. There will be time when they will feel like they are stuck in a capsule drifting inside a bottle of black ink. Time draaaags, there is no acceleration whatsoever, and nothing is happening outside. This is totally not what you imagined when you wished to become an astronaut when you were a kid! Giving the crew some events and checkpoints, some meaningful tasks along the course of their travel will keep them sane.

You don't have to make multiple launches. Two launches are enough. First, cargo carrier craft, has to dispense (decelerate) the resupply pods during its travel, so that the pods would continue to fly towards Mars on same trajectory, but somewhat slower then incoming crew carrier.

OTOH, there is no good reason to gamble with their lives. Perhaps essential supplies should remain on board crew carrier and resupply pods should contain only the treats as a prize. Unless that is too insulting, that is.

Re:No option to resupply? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246195)

I'm guessing that NASA has done the math and figured out that it's easier, and possibly cheaper, to send all the food up to LEO and then transfer it to Mars in one go along with the astronauts than it is to engage in multiple interplanetary transfers, each with an orbital rendezvous and risk of failure.

NASA is notorious for flubbing this particular math. If it comes to a choice between using a small vehicle frequently or a large massive, "cost plus"-expensive vehicle, then NASA tends to go for whatever benefits its contractors most of the time (that is, use the big vehicle).

The advantages of smaller vehicles operating more frequently, is a) they're cheaper per flight due to economies of scale, and b) you can build up a lot of knowledge and experience for difficult tasks using low risk payloads.

For an example of the latter point, if you come up with a new engineering trick for lowering delta v a little, you can try it with a cheap bulk payload first rather than people or mission critical equipment. Also, you can send radiation insensitive payloads via Venus flyby (and perhaps via solar powered propulsion systems). That appears to broaden the available windows for flying stuff to Mars efficiently.

Re:No option to resupply? (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245557)

IANARS but what would be the benefit of sending supplies at regular intervals over sending them all at once. Energy cost will be the same.

Re:No option to resupply? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245889)

If Bob Kerman gets a penicillin resistant bacterial infection and needs a different type of antibiotic, or Jeb's body for some reason decided it is now lactose intolerant, they can change up the menu, throw in some new DVDs from the summer, include more fuel, spare parts... all sorts of things. Or someone needs an emergency appendectomy, and suddenly there are no more spare bags of blood or anesthetics on board for the next two years. When you go traveling on earth and you realize you forgot to pack sunscreen, you're going to pay through the nose for it at the beach, but at least you can buy it. On the Apollo missions, if something went wrong they could stick it out for a couple of days; with a six month mars mission, if something goes wrong halfway to mars, it's still three months until you can slingshot home, and then six more months to earth orbit. If it's serious, you're probably just going to die unless you get the right tools.

Re:No option to resupply? (2)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245775)

OMG It all comes down to supply chain management again

For gods sake don't let them use JIT!!!

Poop steak (2)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245305)

Might it be time to dig out the poop steak hoax and turn it into the real thing?

Re:Poop steak (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245473)

Might it be time to dig out the poop steak hoax and turn it into the real thing?

You're joking, but with a crew of 6-8 people, and a flight time of 180 days, we're talking around 1200-1600 kg of feces. Urine will be recycled, but contain solids too, so add around 100 kg there.

Then there are the extra female hygiene challenges. While certainly not PC, it might be easier to just say no, and only accept women if they've had hysterectomies or are on period suppressing medication.

Re:Poop steak (2)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245527)

...only accept women if they've had hysterectomies or are on period suppressing medication.

Not that controversial. They better be on the (period suppressing) birth-control pill. You don't want any babies getting conceived on the journey.

Re:Poop steak (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246093)

That doesn't follow. There are many other ways to deal with fertility, including sterilization (of either gender) and implants.

Re:Poop steak (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245561)

we will be leaving a trail of turds in space to mars. do you think they will carry it there and back?

And will doubtless become extinct (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245661)

When the fecal mass agglutinates, reaches the asteroid belt, agglutinates some more and comes back as a honking great comet which will crash straight into us. (No, I am not serious. A maker of feeble jokes yes, but not entirely ignorant of physics).

Amazing (0)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245645)

Did you just crawl from under a rock? I can see I'm going to have to spell this out for you, but do you really think that male astronauts (or sailors, or oil rig workers) manage to go for extended periods without getting intimate with one of their hands? Just because the subject isn't exactly widely discussed outside the inhabitants of single-male communities, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. If that little disposal problem can be coped with, periods should be the least of anyone's worries. Pregnancy, of course, is a different matter but doesn't carry the subtext of "female body, ooh gross".

Re:Amazing (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246065)

Did you just crawl from under a rock? I can see I'm going to have to spell this out for you, but do you really think that male astronauts (or sailors, or oil rig workers) manage to go for extended periods without getting intimate with one of their hands? Just because the subject isn't exactly widely discussed outside the inhabitants of single-male communities, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. If that little disposal problem can be coped with, periods should be the least of anyone's worries.

Sigh. Yes, you have to spell it out for me, because I don't see how men need pads or tampons, neither of which can be processed through human waste recycling like feces, urine and semen.

Re:Poop steak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245651)

While certainly not PC, it might make a HECK of a lot more sense just to let robots go instead of humans. I don't get people's fascination with having humans on planets.

Re:Poop steak (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246183)

I don't get people's fascination with having humans on planets.

Your parents obviously were OK with this, or you wouldn't be on this one.

I think humans have a built-in desire to explore and move to new grounds, and that this has served us well in surviving. If we all stayed put in one area, it would only take a single catastrophe to wipe the entire human race out.
This drive may serve us well in the future too. When (not if) humanity on Earth faces its demise, whether from a comet, lab-engineered virus or other, we better have spread out.
If we put any value in the survival of the species, of course.

It may take a thousand years or more before we're in the position to live outside the Earth, but unless we start with the small steps towards that, it will never happen.

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245313)

...space weevil?

Simple, a Manna Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245319)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manna_Machine

Here's a plan (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245323)

On the way out, normal rations but watch very closely who is underperforming in their duties.

On the way back, Soylent Green for dinner.

Just an idea...

Mars menu (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245339)

has too many calories [wikipedia.org]

Re:Mars menu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245571)

That's not nearly enough calories! Wait, did you mean kilo-calories? Or were we working in joules?

Lack of gravity stops smell and taste? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245397)

"the lack of gravity means smell - and taste - is impaired. So the food is bland."

Really.

How come nobody else reading Slashdot noticed this ludicrous statement? How can a lack of gravity "impair" smell? Do they mean the SENSE of smell or taste? What are they talking about?

Re:Lack of gravity stops smell and taste? (2)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245555)

Airline Catering add extra salt and spices to meals to avoid people complaining about them being too bland. When flying in high altitudes, apparently sense of taste and smell is impaired.

Could be similar issue in 0-grav and certainly is if cabine-pressure is kept low.

Re:Lack of gravity stops smell and taste? (4, Informative)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245559)

"the lack of gravity means smell - and taste - is impaired. So the food is bland."

Really.

How come nobody else reading Slashdot noticed this ludicrous statement? How can a lack of gravity "impair" smell? Do they mean the SENSE of smell or taste? What are they talking about?

This is correct. Your sense of taste and smell is diminished in zero G. You start slopping on the hot sauce pretty heavily.
Also you start to notice a sweet, metallic smell everywhere you go.

They haven't quite figured out why this happens yet, but since we are essentially big bags of water, and in zero G our internal fluid pressure changes, that may upset the way fluids move through our mucosa.

Re:Lack of gravity stops smell and taste? (0)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245591)

Probably has more to do with lower than normal atmospheric pressure in the vehicle than gravity.

Send food in advance maybe? (5, Insightful)

opusman (33143) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245409)

Is there any reason a whole lot of canned/freeze-dried food couldn't be sent to Mars in advance? Now that we can target Mars with pretty much pin-point accuracy (within a few dozen KM) there's no reason a bunch of supply missions couldn't be sent before the fleshbots arrive.

Re:Send food in advance maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245545)

Wrong question. There's no reason why presupply missions would be impossible, but what would be the point of doing it for food?

Travelling with the astronauts means the food doesn't have to be stored for so long, and can be put inside a normal pressure vessel, so doesn't have to withstand vacuum. That makes everything so much easier.

You also don't have to worry about the crew's ability to retrieve food caches if it's all travelling with them.

We herald in (2, Funny)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245417)

We herald in the gastronauts.

I'll be back after a short break. Don't go changin'.

Buy a few thousand of these (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245483)

Kracie Popin Cookin - curry sets [youtube.com]

Buy a few thousand of these and put them on board. Just look at that awesome stuff, you can make your own little curry! Without any of the nutrients at all! AWE! It is fun for all the family!
At least they will have that to look forward to before the inevitable smash in to the planet. Hopefully for them they starve of vital nutrients because you lied about all the food being replaced with sugary treats, save the painful fiery explosion and messy underwear beforehand.

Why can't you send supply ships... (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245501)

Unmanned supply ships, why not?

You managed to land a car on mars ffs.

Re:Why can't you send supply ships... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245567)

If you send food long in advance and verify that it's there before launching the crew, you make your storage problems worse. You now need food that can tolerate several extra years in a crate. You also add an extra point of failure in the mission - what happens if the crew can't reach their supply vehicle for some reason?

On the other hand, if you send the food along afterwards, what do you do when a supply mission fails? You can't tell your crew to avoid eating for six months while you prepare a replacement.

Victorian canned food (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245705)

The toleration of years in a crate is not a problem. Victorian tin cans were substantial (they could not roll steel thin or plate thinly and reliably) and canned food has been found that was still edible after more than 50 years. I need hardly add that exposure to vacuum is not a problem with a hermetic can which is already at vacuum pressure inside (sealed while boiling). Vitamins and minerals could be carried on board so the loss of them in canned food would not be a problem.

No, storage is easily solvable. Recovery isn't if you have to land on the wrong side of Mars from your cache. Curiosity manages about 4cm/min, and although that's faster than London rush hour traffic often seems to be, nobody is going to land a Cayenne and a fuel dump on Mars.

Re:Why can't you send supply ships... (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245993)

sounds like a modern day re-run of the supply problems of the Terra Nova Expedition [wikipedia.org] in 1920 that ended up killing Scott and his team on the return journey from the pole.

Re:Why can't you send supply ships... (3, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246005)

You managed to land a car on mars ffs.

Good point, landing a hot dog stand can't be that much harder.

They should go shopping (1)

rudolfel (700883) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245539)

Years of research for what McDonald, Burgerking and KFC have already invented....

What's so hard about that? (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245541)

Send them waffles and bacon!

Oh, and always promise them cake, but never give it to them.

Not hard to do. (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245551)

You want calorie dense nutrient dense foods. I can fit in a single backpack all the food needed by one person for 30 days. Problem is they will go insane eating the same ration day in and day out.

The other aspect is also choosing foods that have a higher conversion factor so the waste elimination is compact and less frequent. You cant go high protein as you have a limited supply of water and you have to have water to process protein. So it 's a balance that is hard to figure out.

The article summary is very wrong, " Imagine having to shop for a family's three-year supply of groceries all at once and having enough meals planned in advance for that length of time." is really easy. Imagine having to shop for a family's three-year supply of groceries all at once and having enough meals planned in advance for that length of time that dont use too much water from your finite limited supply of water and reduces the excrement output of the entire family to be as small as possible.

THAT is what NASA is trying to do, it's massively harder than planning a 3 year grocery list.

Re:Not hard to do. (1, Insightful)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245617)

This story typifies what's wrong with NASA these days. No astronauts are going to Mars for the forseeable future. And even if a mission were approved it would take a decade's planning and minor tasks like this could be knocked off in a few months. They're reduced to trumpeting these irrelevancies in the absence of any real achievements.

Re:Not hard to do. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245967)

So you are telling me they can figure this out a month before launch? Why dont you send them your resume' as it seems you are a lot smarter than the scientists that work there. Nahh dont do any testing and trials, just guess and push the launch button!

Re:Not hard to do. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246297)

So you are telling me they can figure this out a month before launch?

Actually, yes they could with off the shelf stuff such as vacuum bagging and freeze drying. There might be a modest degree of inefficiency in terms of mass using tools not intended for space flight. Frankly, the critical issues are experience with manned deep space flight and extended duration missions, developing a vehicle or vehicles that can travel to and land on Mars, and development and deployment of Mars-side infrastructure. NASA has a vast amount of experience with storing food in space.

There isn't a compelling need to work on space food until NASA has a need for it.

Re:Not hard to do. (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246045)

They're reduced to trumpeting these irrelevancies in the absence of any real budget .

Fixed that for you.

Re:Not hard to do. (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246321)

NASA gets plenty of money. They just use it extremely poorly.

Re:Not hard to do. (0)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245635)

Given that you're more than likely to send military personnel (e.g. NASA pilots) on the mission, military rations would do.

They would sustain high levels of activity. They would be as weight-efficient as possible. They would provide all necessary nutrients for long term use. They would provide a varied menu.

And the people eating them will probably not care about the rations.

Eating the same food over and over again isn't going to drive you anywhere near insane unless you were unstable already. You'd get bored, that's about it. Like working abroad and getting sick of foreign food, it's not going to kill you and if you're military-trained (or even just professional), you will not care or notice because, damn, you're on Mars!

And you pack a monthly "special meal" to combat long-term boredom.

The solution, however, seems to be NOT to send up pre-packaged meals. Send up ingredients and a bunch of recipes. Sure, there's problems with cooking in such environments but surely they have to be solved and that's the BEST time to solve them before we have to prepare ALL food on Earth and send it up around the Solar System.

Send up raw ingredients. Find ways to solve the preparation and cooking problems. Then the crew can have whatever they like to eat, whenever they want, and nothing they don't like and solve the problem for everyone else. And every few meals, have bubble-n-squeak or some "leftover" kind of meal out of the bits you'd normally waste.

Re:Not hard to do. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245873)

Why this insistence on water economy? The ISS has been using a machine to extract drinkable water from waste for a while now. It's established technology. That pretty much destroys your entire argument I believe.

Re:Not hard to do. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245951)

"That pretty much destroys your entire argument I believe.", only to the armchair drive by commenter it looks that way.

There is not 100% water recovery. that is completely impossible unless we are using star-trek unobtanium technology. They still resupply the ISS with water on every resupply launch. A MARS mission will have no resupply launches, and the cost per pound if they even though of a resupply launch would be 9,000X more expensive than lifting it to low orbit for the ISS. So if you screw up and guess wrong and 6 days away from coming home they run out of water... Crew is dead. or if the purification system has lower efficiency due to some issue, crew is dead.

NASA is interested in getting a crew there and back, and to do that you need to carry water, ration water, and do everything to manage water. If you knew anything at all about the space program you would know they do this already. I really suggest you look it up and read up the technology and the process behind it, its as fascinating as the designs of the latest rocket engines.

Re:Not hard to do. (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246177)

I read somewhere that dog food experts were consulted about how to minimize poop from food. Apparently, dog food already has the quality of getting your dog full while minimizing poop generation. But they were questioning whether or not astronauts would appreciate their food being associated with the makers of Alpo or whatever.

There are commercial options already addressing th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245605)

Devout Mormons are instructed to store away a year's worth of food and necessities.
Here in Salt Lake City, Utah, there are numerous stores that cater to this.
I wonder what NASA could learn from them.
Some stores sell a complete [Freeze Dried] year's worth of food prepackaged, and variety is a big selling point. (And they have various options at various at various prices depending on the variety and quantity you want. (Or buy one of their grain grinders and some grain to mix it up a bit.)

So, NASA could just mail order three one-year packages per person, and be done with it.

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (0)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245631)

Devout Mormons are instructed to store away a year's worth of food and necessities.

Erm... Why? I'm guessing there's a few supplies shops owned by senior Morman decision makers?

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245699)

If they have the expertise, who cares why they have it if you can make use of it.

And why is a blatantly anti-mormon reply without any content relevant to the thread been given a score of 2 and the original comment with information relevant to the thread given a score of 0?

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245805)

>If they have the expertise, who cares why they have it if you can make use of it.
I have no idea why a Mormon would need to stash food, it was a reasonable question. The second point was just musing about motives, hardly 'anti-Mormon' unless you have a huge chip on your shoulder.

As for the scores, I can't help the original having 0 - it's posted as AC so that's going to happen.

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41245977)

think about it dude, mormonism is a religion that came to be not long after the colonial era where many people were homesteaders and/or rural with potential for wide distances between. Setting an edict of keeping a long term store of food would simply be good planning in case of serious disasters or crop failures or separation from the rest of society for a long term period.

Selecting a year is just a round kind of number in terms of time. At the time i'm sure it was considered good common sense.

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246223)

OK, thanks. Makes sense in a historical sort of way. I know pretty much zip about Mormons, never met one so I really couldn't see where the food store thing came from.

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41246019)

And why is a blatantly anti-mormon reply without any content relevant to the thread been given a score of 2 and the original comment with information relevant to the thread given a score of 0?

Because of your settings: you're reading AC comments with no modifiers, and non-AC commenters with a karma bonus.

Now hop further up, go into your account, assign +3 to AC and -3 to non-AC. Happy now? The world is a better place?

Ps: and get a life!

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (1)

KillaBeave (1037250) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245813)

Devout Mormons are instructed to store away a year's worth of food and necessities. Here in Salt Lake City, Utah, there are numerous stores that cater to this. I wonder what NASA could learn from them. Some stores sell a complete [Freeze Dried] year's worth of food prepackaged, and variety is a big selling point. (And they have various options at various at various prices depending on the variety and quantity you want. (Or buy one of their grain grinders and some grain to mix it up a bit.)

So, NASA could just mail order three one-year packages per person, and be done with it.

So Mitt Romney will get us to Mars first? Color me confused :)

Re:There are commercial options already addressing (1)

DeBaas (470886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246277)

So Mitt Romney will get us to Mars first? Color me confused :)

Sending Mitt Romney to Mars: Brilliant plan! The benefits to the economy will even outweigh the cost of the trip

Imagine... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245691)

Imagine having to shop for a family's three-year supply of groceries all at once and having enough meals planned in advance for that length of time.

Then forget that idea, because it's nothing like that.

Stupid (3, Funny)

puddingebola (2036796) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245717)

Top Ramen Dumbass... every college student knows that

Food supplies (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245753)

Send unmanned supply vehicle(s) ahead of the mission.

If we can now park 1 tonne loads on Mars with some precision, it shouldn't be rocket science groan to send some supply drops to the landing area before the colonists/settlers arrive.

It's possible some of these drops could be hydroponically controlled environments, so that there is the possibility of some fresh food on Mars on arrival.

Or get McDonalds to start a franchise there....

is not so hard (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#41245825)

The military has already solved this problem reasonably well with MREs. Another possible solution would be to have progress-like spacecrafts to restock, carefully scheduling the launch dates for them to do a job similar to what they already do to the ISS. In short, do not try to send everything at once (would need a very large ship), send gradually and continuously.

Re:is not so hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41246365)

Shipping MRE's to Afganistan is in a whole different ballpark than shipping them to Mars. That whole thing about escaping earth's gravity well with a boatload of weight is what messes your plan up.

Vegan, not vegetarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41246121)

By the way, the recipes are VEGAN, not just 'vegetarian', there is a BIG difference.

The should be able to put a costco in orbit (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 2 years ago | (#41246393)

Sending people to mars is one thing. You schedule it to take the shortest route. But sending equipment and supplies is different. They should be sending supplies for 10 years prior to the mission.

The hard part is getting the stuff into orbit. Then you blast it on any convenient trajectory available. You don't have to go very fast at all. In fact you want it to have plenty of fuel when it gets there so that it can park itself in orbit and then be brought down anywhere on the planet using probably the bumper ball landing system. Any fuel left if the craft can be salvaged later.

The food will super freeze so it might be necessary to make a reverse fridge to insulate the food and keep heat inside the storage compartment. You can definitely send all the ice cream you want. And you probably don't need to sterilize it at all if the trip takes two years since the food will be exposed to cosmic rays all that time. The food you send should be as dehydrated as possible, sending frozen water separately. Lots of rice, beans, pasta, quinoa and spices. Dehydrated tomato paste. Lots of aging cheeses. Concentrated milk and cream.

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