Crew returns from simulated 4-month trip to Mars

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This crew of six concluded a landmark study — a simulated four-month trip to Mars. There are many considerations when it comes to that kind of journey.

“This is a study as most of you know to see how we could handle many problems of astronauts, specifically on long duration space travel,” Commander Angelo Vermeulen said.

While the crew agreed there were many elements of such a trip that must be addressed, they all agreed food would be one of the most important. The question: Off-the-shelf goods or cooking for yourself.

“One of the solutions that’s being proposed here during this very first Pisces mission — is to allow astronauts — future astronauts who are about to surface to allow them to cook,” Vermeulen said.

Cooking was fuel for the crew. Vermeulen asked the rhetorical question: Do you want an under-performing crew or a happy crew? And it’s not a simple matter.

“Four months, we’ve been preparing food. We’ve been comparing prepared food and cooking strategies and it’s more than just making food. It’s a lot of filling out of surveys and weighing your food, evaluating our food,” Vermeulen said.

At the end of the day or in this case, at the end of four months the crew agreed that having the chance to cook made a big difference in the passage of time. The project solicited recipes from around the world to take with them to the high-seas experiment.

“I was actually surprised because of the variety. We were able to cook, it was amazing. The recipe contest added to that because we got all of these recipes from people around the world,” Mars journey participant Dr. Sian Proctor said.

Besides food, one other question, the isolation of being in a confined space for four months with six other strangers,” Dr. Proctor said.

“And the things that I expected that were going to be difficult, isolation, being close together with six people all the time they were not difficult at all,” Vermeulen said.

And the number one food chosen by the pretend astronauts?  Spam fried rice.

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