The NASA Village

Today in the NASA Village… Food in Orbit: Is it Science or Art?

Food is the one thing that most astronauts will lament that they did not spend enough time thinking about before being launched into orbit.

At NASA, all food is carefully formulated to meet nutritional, safety and quality requirements. These items have a shelf-life of up to two years and must pass stringent micro and quality checks before being launched into orbit. The most popular items are included in a “standard menu” and supplied in regular intervals. However, crew members are also given an opportunity to pick additional items that will be included in his/her “preference” containers. Putting careful thought into what goes into those containers is extremely important and will ensure that astronauts are happy with the food selection throughout the entire mission!  

Something we all have in common is our love for food.

Dr. Takiyah Sirmons always had an interest in food, but it wasn’t until she participated in a high school research program that she decided to pursue Food Science as a major. She said, “while the rest of my friends were enjoying summer BBQ’s and working at Six Flags, I was in a lab counting bacteria used to make cheese. It sounds pretty dorky now that I mention it, but it was actually one of the coolest things I had ever done! The rest is history…I’ve been a Food Scientist ever since.” You can see her working in the Johnson Center Food Laboratory in the above photograph.

When I got to orbit on my first flight, it seemed take about 3 weeks for me to actually “feel” hungry.  I was only eating because it was “time” to eat. My theory for part of that delay in adapting the appetite, is the fact that you do not smell the food while it is cooking (more accurately, warming up). It is not until you open the package, that there is a sense of smell to help (or maybe not) with your appetite. The importance of the sense of smell was reinforced to me after the arrival of a Progress cargo vehicle that delivered some fresh fruit (which we smelled when we opened the hatch), onions, and fresh garlic.  

Fresh garlic is commonly eaten raw in Russia, but I love mine roasted. I came up with a way to “roast” the garlic in space, using a drink bag which I clipped off one corner of to insert the garlic cloves and some olive oil, resealed with a heavy paper binder clip, and put into the suitcase oven for the afternoon.  The whole station smelled of roasted garlic! I loved it and I was hungry at suppertime!

Experimentation is a huge part of the work taking place in the Space Food Systems Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center. The NASA Village often participates in taste panels, where they sample and rate the quality of newly developed foods, as shown in the photo above. Dr. Sirmons spoke about one of her first projects for the International Space Station, where she had to reformulate Tomato Basil Soup. She said, “The project should’ve been simple, except I had never actually tasted Tomato Basil Soup (I absolutely hate tomatoes). Instead of mentioning this to my team, I dove head first into this project and ended up making about 50 versions of the product before I actually broke down and purchased soup from the store. After trying literally every soup on the shelf (and making myself sick to the stomach), I came up with a formula that was a hit within the lab…I still don’t eat tomatoes, but the formula was a hit.” I suppose we all have to suck it up a bit sometimes….and I love the tomato basil soup on board!

Want to learn more about space food? Learn more about how astronaut food has evolved in the food laboratory over time here: 

Thought for ponder: The world population is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050…without advances in Food Science, it wouldn’t be impossible to feed everyone. How can we make more sustainable food systems?

Next time on the NASA Village… How Cold is Space?                                    Do you want more stories?  Find our NASA Villagers here!


I recorded this at SUNY Purchase.


fun timez~

Peggy Whitson checking on a soybean plant in the ISS. Experiments like these are not only important to research biological processes in space and experiment with food production in space stations, they also give the astronauts an opportunity to see plants again. That might seem trivial, but when you are hurling in a metal box through space, it is nice to encounter something living and green.

Photo Source: NASA2Explore

It’s a U.S. Record! Cumulative Days in Space: 383

Today, Astronaut Scott Kelly has broken the record for longest time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut! Over the course of his four missions, Kelly has spent 383 cumulative days in space. This record was previously held by Astronaut Mike Fincke, with 382 days in space over three flights. Here are some more fun facts about this milestone:

  • 4: The number of humans that have spent a year or more in orbit on a single mission
  • 215 Days: The record currently held by Mike Lopez-Alegria for most time on a single spaceflight by U.S. astronaut. On Oct. 29, Kelly will break this record
  • 377 Days: The current record for most days in space by a U.S. female astronaut, held by Peggy Whitson
  • 879 Days: The record for most cumulative days in space by a human, currently held by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka

Why Spend a Year in Space?

Kelly’s One-Year Mission is an important stepping stone on our journey to Mars and other deep space destinations. These investigations are expected to yield beneficial knowledge on the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by astronauts during long-duration spaceflight.

Kelly is also involved in the Twins Study, which consists of ten separate investigations that are being conducted with his twin brother, who is on Earth. Since we are able to study two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments for one year, we can gain a broader insight into the subtle effects and changes that may occur in spaceflight.

For regular updates on Kelly’s one-year mission aboard the space station, follow him on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

First Female Cosmonaut Arrives on Station as Part of Expedition 41/42

The ISS saw the arrival of three new crew members this week. Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samojutyaev, along with NASA astronaut Bruce Wilmore joined NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev on station. 

Serova is only the fourth female cosmonaut to fly inspace and one of only 18 females to be selected as cosmonauts since 1961. These numbers are in stark contrast to the United States, who has had over 40 women selected as astronauts, and even had two female commanders of the space station – Peggy Whitson (2007-2008) and Sunny Williams (2012). 

Elena tried to make light of her historic mission, by saying she thought of this as just work, her job is space. However, she did recognize its significance and what it means for Russian women. 

Elena is an accomplished engineer and even worked in Russian Mission Control prior to being selected for the cosmonaut corps in 2006. She is a graduate of the esteemed Moscow Aviation Institute and was selected as part of the Expedition 41/42 crew back in 2011.

Serova is described as being the first female cosmonaut selected based on her skills and merits, and boy is she qualified. Hopefully, she will have a long history with the space program. 

Despite being highly qualified, Elena had to suffer through countless questions at pre-launch briefings about what her hair and make-up regime would be on station. She was quick to fire back at reporters, asking them why don’t ask her male comrades what they were going to do with their hair. 

Serova joins a small club of high-flying Russian women. This groups includes the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova (1963); the first woman to perform a space walk, Sveltlana Savitskaya (1992, 1994); and the first woman to fly a long-duration mission and the only female cosmonaut to fly on shuttle, Yelena Kondakova (1994-1995).

In November, Serova will be joined by another female astronaut, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoferetti. Samantha is Europe’s third female astronaut behind Helen Sharman in 1991, and Claudie Haignere in 2001.

Image & Source Credit: NASA/ESA/Roscosmos

Want to put on a show @ The Stood?!

Purchase’s General Events Coordinator, Elise Granata, put together a blog a while ago to let the student body know how to put on an event @ The Stood. Here it is again for those who missed it…

HOW TO PUT ON AN EVENT AT PURCHASE COLLEGE                So here I present to you a kinda comprehensive, definitely charming guide on event at Purchase.

  1. Come up with a good idea!
    Do you want to organize a show? A lecture? Something else wild and great that I can’t think of? 
  2. Find the right people to help you out with this.
    This step might not be necessary depending on what you’re doing, but the truth is that there are a bunch of people all around campus who might be pretty familiar with what you’re interested in already. Every club on campus meets bi-weekly under the name Council of Clubs, Organizations and Services (CoCOaS). Maybe one of them could help you with your idea! If you’re not sure who to contact directly, you should get in touch with Ricky Gunzel (frederick.gunzel@purchase.edu). He is their coordinator and is the most knowledgeable person on all sorts of networking and budgeting within our clubs and services.
  3. Find funding
    If whatever you’re doing costs money, don’t panic! There’s a little thing called the Mandatory Student Activities Fee, a small $100 tacked onto everyone’s tuition at the school. This money goes to fund all the events that happen here—and I mean all of them. It even helps the Student Center run! In any case, this is money that is devoted to funding student events. It is divided up between clubs and GPC and all that…again, find the group of people most appropriate for what you’re doing and work with them on this. 
    (A good example of collaboration is when junior Marianna Grady wanted to put on a laser tag event, she approached the Role Playing Gamers Alliance for some help and some funding. Does that kinda make sense?)
  4. If you have performers…
    If your event has a band, solo artist, organization, lecturer, etc. coming through, you have to fill out a couple of contracts in order for them to play here. This is also the paperwork you need to fill out in order to get them paid. It’s no big deal, just head on over to the PSGA office in Campus Center North (attached to the Hub) to pick up the paperwork!
  5. Time and place!
    Figure out which venue on campus works best for your event and when. When you have a time and place in mind, you have to reserve your space on the Room Management Service thing (RMS). Despite it being super archaic and tedious, this is how a ton of Purchase is run. Even classes are reserved on there. Anyway, bear with me:

1. Go to the Purchase College website.
2. Click on ‘Faculty and Staff’ on the upper bar.
3. Select 'Self Service.’
4. Select 'RMS Menu & Master Calendar’ and log in with your student e-mail and e-mail password.
5. Select 'Create a New Event’ on the upper panel.
6. Title your event and try to be clear with your description, because there is a separate manager of each venue who gets all kinds of requests like these. This will also be the information that appears on the master calendar when students go to look at that.
7. On the drop down menu on the next page, select the building and room you would like to rent. For example, if you want to rent the Cinema in the Student Center, you select 'Student Center’ as your building, and to select the Cinema just select '1018 – Cinema.’
8. Go through the rest of the form and do your thing…double check everything to make sure the time slot is correct and whatnot. 
9. Click 'create event’. You should get an e-mail confirming that you put in this RMS request. This does not mean that it is confirmed yet– you will get a second e-mail telling you that your event was approved or rejected by whoever manages that space.

It probably will not be rejected, and if it is, it is only because your event might clash with another event booked for the same time slot in the same room. No reason you can’t negotiate that with whoever is in charge of the event, though! 

  1. Get some tech!
    If you need sound or power or whatever, don’t worry. We have a whole Tech Services programrun by students here who are there to help you out with your event. If you want your event to have tech, there is a calendar that you have to log all events with. When you do this, someone from tech services signs up for the event and is able to use all the equipment necessary. As a rule, you can’t use tech services equipment unless you’re an employee or officially assigned to the event, because these tech services folks get paid for their time and all of that. Only a couple of people have access to this calendar, so just let me (purchaseeventsbrigade@gmail.com) or Josh Warsaw (joshua.warshaw@purchase.edu), the Tech Services Coordinator, know which date and time slot you end up going with so we can put it on there for you.

  2. Promote it all up in everywhere
    Make some posters and use up those extra printing dollars in your account and just blanket every available bulletin board with your flyer! Remember, if you’re getting funding from a club or anything under the PSGA, it has to say ‘Paid for by your mandatory student activities fee’ somewhere on there.If you want a campus-wide e-mail to go out, contact frederick.gunzel@purchase.edu or john.delate@purchase.edu . 

  3. Have your event!
    I don’t really have any advice past this point because I don’t have any clue what you’re doing.  I’m sure it’ll be great. 

    I SERIOUSLY WOULD LOVE TO TALK TO YOU, HOW DO I DO THAT, HOW                Our e-mail is PURCHASEEVENTSBRIGADE@GMAIL.COM and our blog isWWW.PURCHASEEVENTSBRIGADE.BLOGSPOT.COM. You can also join the Facebook group if you want, just search ‘Purchase Events Brigade’!

There you have it! Again, if you have any questions, just contact us atpurchaseeventsbrigade@gmail.com. Go forth and do your thing!
Posted by EliseGranata