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Good News, Future Colonists! Mars Meals May Feature Nutella

Researchers have spent the last six months in a dome on the slope of a volcano in Hawaii.

Researchers have spent the last six months in a dome on the slope of a volcano in Hawaii. // NASA

On the northern slope of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, on a barren lava field at 8,000 feat above sea level, six researchers have spent the last four months living in a dome. And, when venturing beyond the dome, wearing space suits. And, beyond that, sleeping. And eating. And cooking.

Their task? To simulate what life on Mars might be like for humans -- barren terrain, clothing requirements, and all. Their specific task in all this was to focus on the food: to think about what culinary concoctions might be appropriate for the Mars colonists of the future.

To do this, the researchers -- selected by both the University of Hawaii and Cornell University and funded by NASA -- prepared meals from a pre-determined list of foods: foods that are dehydrated, preserved, un-perishable, and, for all that, generally unpalatable. It was essentially Iron Chef, with the mystery ingredient being Mars. The team's job was to make the food, somehow, enjoyable and interesting -- the better for Mars colonists to combat both the malnutrition and the food boredom that can come with long-haul trips to other planets. They did their cooking in the kitchen area of their two-story, Mars-appropriate dome.

Read more at The Atlantic

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