Astronauts on the ISS eat pre-packaged food stores that are ready to eat as soon as the astronauts get hungry. NASA allots ISS astronauts 3.8 pounds of food per day. The ISS has the space to store that much food without issues. On a much longer trip in space, like the 5-year round trip mission to Mars, that seemingly small amount of food would be a huge stockpile that any ship taken to the red planet wouldn’t be able to hold.
The trip to Mars would need about 7,000 pounds of food per crewmember for the trip. NASA says that the only way to get enough food for the trip would be to have the astronauts grow some of their own food stores on the ship. NASA has found ten crops that fit the bill for plants that have few inedible parts, are easy to grown, and can provide a varied menu.
The ten crops NASA has found so far would be lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, bell peppers, strawberries, fresh herbs and cabbages. Another option for sending food for the mission would be to send unmanned craft ahead of the manned mission to drop food stores onto Mars with long shelf lives that the astronauts could retrieve on arrival.
[via TG Daily]