NASA has launched a new project called the Deep Space Food Challenge, which aims to gather ideas and technologies to address the food safety of astronauts in future space missions. This is a social and scientific project in which everyone can take part. The top 20 teams will receive $ 25,000 in prizes and a partnership offer.
The main task is formulated not as a search for something else tasty to serve on the table for future Martian colonists, but how to teach them how to create food during the flight. Because the practice of long-term work on the ISS has shown that the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet harms not only bodily, but also mental health. It is possible to survive on canned food, but to work productively and quickly solve complex problems is already problematic.
Taking into account the extreme limited resources and space on the spacecraft, it is not possible to “grow” products by conventional methods. At least to feed the astronauts on a regular basis. We need other techniques and breakthrough ideas, because it has long been learned to just grow greens on the ISS. For example, NASA is exploring the possibility of creating a GMO yeast that metabolizes beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, plus beneficial antioxidants usually obtained from vegetables. One test tube with yeast, in theory, can cover the weekly need of astronauts in these substances.
Applications for the competition are accepted until July 30, 2021.