NASA is offering $500,000 for systems to keep astronauts fed

·2-min read
What to eat on the way to Mars?

Fancy cooking up some tasty treats for astronauts on interstellar missions? Great, but remember, their food must be able to be cooked and eaten in space, feeding these far-flung travelers as they head to Mars. US$500,000 is up for grabs for the winners of this Deep Space Food Challenge.

Have you got what it takes to be a space chef? Then this is the challenge for you. But Michelin-starred gastronomes can step aside, because the Deep Space Food Challenge from NASA, in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, is calling for participants to invent new systems and technologies to feed astronauts on their space missions.

And that's no mean feat. Space food research has already developed special ultra-high-calorie chocolate bars to provide astronauts with energy but keep food weights on board low. And for years, NASA has been studying the potential to grow fresh fruit and vegetables in space to offer healthier options to humans on missions.

The aim of this new challenge is to find innovative ways of sustaining astronauts traveling to Mars. They may not be able to enjoy hearty stews or grandma's beef casserole, but space travelers will nevertheless need some comfort during the three years -- minimum -- this interstellar voyage requires.

$500,000 up for grabs

As well as feeding astronauts, the challenge also envisages putting new systems and technologies to use to cultivate healthy and fresh products in the most extreme locations of the globe.

Would-be participants have until May 28 to sign up , and until July 30 to present their innovative projects. The winners (the top 20 teams) will share half a million dollars, or $25,000 each. But the prize is only available to participants in the US. Teams in Canada can take part in a similar initiative to win between CA$30,000 and $380,000. International teams can also enter, although no prize money is available.

Stay up to date with news from the challenge on the Deep Space Food Challenge Instagram page.