Researchers conducting Mars food study on the Big Island

Six researchers are on a mission to Mars, without ever having left Earth.

They’re living and working like astronauts in a simulated martian base on the Big Island, cooking meals from a list of dehydrated and shelf-stable food items.

The whole purpose is to analyze new types of food and novel food preparation strategies to keep astronauts well-nourished for space exploration.

“They have textured vegetable protein, which is a meat substitute. I hate to say it, but it’s a little like dog food. And they have freeze-dried vegetables and freeze-dried fruit and they’re making some amazing dishes with it,” Kim Binsted said.

Experts hope this will combat menu fatigue, which is when astronauts get tired of eating the same food day after day.

The researchers “return to Earth” on Aug. 13 after a four-month mission.

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