Cookies in space may sound like the name of Ben and Jerry's new flavor, but it's actually a new space cooking experiment conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
On Saturday, a cargo ship departed to Virginia containing a space oven, officially known as the "Zero-G Oven," along with baking ingredients. This is the first step in allowing astronauts to experiment with baking in space. The ingredients and the oven were shipped along with a 3.7 ton shipment from the crew heading to the International Space Station.
According to NASA, there are several goals in the experiment. The first is to test an oven designed for microgravity at the International Space Station.
"The Zero-G oven explores the possibility and challenges of baking fresh meals in microgravity," NASA states on the mission's page. "Investigators are investigating how to heat and then cool the space oven in a way that is safe for crew interaction."
The oven is an insulated, cylindrical container designed to store and bake food samples in microgravity . of the International Space Station. The food is kept stable while baking, and an integrated cooling rack is used while keeping the food sealed, which can prevent crew members from burning at work. According to the Space Oven website, because convection is difficult at zero gravity, heating is done by electrical heating elements similar to those found in a toaster oven. Electricity for the oven will be powered by the International Space Station's internal power system. Insulation creates a pocket of heat around the food, which is how the baking works.
NASA says it hopes the use of the oven will give more insight into "the basic properties of heat transfer in microgravity." The results will allow scientists to also compare and observe the differences in baking in a microgravity environment and baking on Earth. Scientists are eager to study the implications for the safety of cooking ordinary food in space.
However, perhaps most importantly, NASA states, "Crew members can experience the psychological and physiological benefits of eating delicious cooked meals."
That is so. Space food is different from Earth's because most of it is pre-cooked and freeze-dried. Some foods of astronauts can be consumed in their natural forms, such as brownies and fruits. Other foods require the addition of water, such as pasta and cheese or spaghetti. The space station provides a basic oven to heat food to the right temperature. There are no refrigerators in space, so space food must be stored and prepared properly to avoid spoiling, especially on longer missions.
This is not the first time astronauts have experimented with food in space. At the International Space Station, astronauts successfully grow plants ̵
"There is great joy in growing and watering plants and producing flowers," says Julie Robinson, chief scientist of the International Space Station, in front of the Atlantic in January 2019. There may also be real sadness if the plants you grow are not successful and die on you. "
Hopefully they will have the same positive results with cookies.