Hotelie Magazine

Hotelie Fall 2012 no classnotes

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A taste of Mars, with flavors of home by Katherine Anderson Sometime next spring, six carefully chosen NASA volunteers will take up residence in a mock space station plunked down on a lava field on the side of Mauna Loa. Living conditions during their four-month simulation will mimic those on Mars: when they go outdoors they'll don space suits, and communication with the outside world will be delayed by the 14-minute Marsto-Earth time lag. But thanks to Rupert Spies, an SHA senior lecturer in food and beverage management, the foods they eat should seem much closer to home. Instead of Tang and the squeeze packets of 34 School of Hotel Administration ready-to-consume food that sustained astronauts on moon missions, these six "gastronauts" will sit down to meals they make themselves from recipes that Spies adapted especially for them. NASA is betting that familiar foods will help astronauts endure the tedium of years in outer space without losing their interest in eating, as present-day astronauts tend to do. Not only do astronauts get bored with their limited food routines, but their noses get congested from floating upside-down in zero gravity, interfering with their ability to smell and taste food. "Menu fatigue" sets in and food intake declines, putting astronauts at risk for nutritional deficiency, loss of bone and muscle mass, and loss of strength and stamina. In order to address these and other problems related to the care and feeding of astronauts, NASA created HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation), a research mission led by researchers at Cornell and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This effort was spearheaded by Jean Hunter, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell, who will study what happens to crew members' sense of taste and smell over the course of the four-month mission.

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