The food will be utilized by astronauts during long-term space missions
With space missions expected to go mars and beyond, the biggest challenge will probably be the survival of the astronauts.
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The US space agency is trying to figure out the solution of the problem. NASA has awarded a grant of $200,000 to the researchers in order to turn recycle human into synthetic food. The food will be utilized by the astronauts during extended space journeys.
Mark Blenner, a professor in Clemson University’s chemical and bioengineering department, is leading the research. The researchers will attempt to genetically engineer yeast to create things that will serve as a new food source for the astronauts on long-term space missions.
“If you want to send people into space for a long period of time, you cannot go down to the Home Depot to get screws, or the market to get food; as space is at a premium.”Blenner said.
Blenner will use components found in urine and exhaled carbon dioxide to produce yeast and eventually to turn it into food. Human urine contains Nitrogen in high levels and this is one of the components that is needed to grow yeast. A certain algae, created out of carbon, can also be used to feed the yeast.
“A particular stain of yeast can be genetically manipulated to create polymers or plastics used for 3D printing, as well as Omega 3s, which lower heart disease risk and protect skin and hair.” Blenner said.
Finding an alternative food source is particularly important since NASA is planning to send humans on Mars by 2035. They will need abundance of food to feed humans for months.
Recently, red romaine lettuce has been grown as a part of NASA’s experiment of harvesting plants on space station. The experimentation will also help provide future astronauts a sustainable food supplement.