Future Space Exploration

How many pounds of food are needed to survive a two-year trip to Mars?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. It's not the sort of question you'll have to worry about terribly often, but you never know! We could have an astonishing breakthrough in space travel technology, such that you found yourself packing for a two-year jaunt to the angry red planet. And, just as you would if driving across country, or across the state, it would make sense to decide how much food to bring. Travelers, even those in the solar system, can get hungry.

    The biggest challenge with bringing food on a trip to Mars would be transporting and storing it. The food you would eat would probably have to be made into a type of granola mix or nutrition bar. Protein powder, sugar, vegetable oil and bran would cover your most basic nutritional needs of protein, calories, fat and fiber. Now, you need to calculate how much of each you would need to cover two years of food: 602 pounds (274 kilograms) of sugar, 133 pounds (60 kilograms) of vegetable oil, 96 pounds (43 kilograms) of protein, and 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of bran. Once you combine all these ingredients together, you would have a total of 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of nutritious space food mix. And those are just the bare, nutritional essentials: We haven't even calculated the cost of toting along some pizza and ice cream!

    All lightheartedness aside, the question may not be as distant a problem as it seems today. After all, the end of the 20th century saw great strides in the race to space, with the use of chemical propulsion as the force behind rockets. Using the latest research, scientists are now trying to determine if we can propel a spacecraft into space faster and further than ever before. They are experimenting with nuclear-fusion propulsion, matter-antimatter propulsion, light propulsion and electromagnetic propulsion. If just one of those ideas hits paydirt, who's to say we might not need those 880-pound refrigerators after all.

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