Mankind’s first mission to Mars is tentatively set for 2030, and scientists and engineers are busy working out the details of the unprecedented trip. One big issue revolves around the Mars-bound astronauts’ diet – nutritionists believe that pre-packaged food will not be enough, so they are working on developing a space-safe kitchen garden. The garden will provide the astronauts with fresh veggies and herbs, it will clean the air on the space craft, and it will be able to filter water for drinking.

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The flight to Mars will take about five years and it is estimated that the astronauts on board will need 7,000 pounds of food during the mission. NASA is working out a plan to send an alternate space craft full of food and supplies to a base on Mars that will hopefully arrive in advance of the ship carrying the manpower so that they’ll have something to eat once they arrive.

NASA has noted that their conventional method of providing astronauts with pre-packaged food just isn’t enough and they’ve isolated the perfect crops to grow in space — lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, spring onions, radishes, peppers, strawberries, herbs and cabbage. Developing this new system will take much more than just figuring out how to grow this lush garden in space. Scientists are working on perfecting the bio-regenerative systems that will support the plants and then they’ll move onto developing a system for food preparation in space — something they’ve never needed before with prepackaged foods. Good thing they’ve got 19 years to perfect this otherworldly full systems task.

Via IB Times