Dark leafy greens and vibrant-hued root vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, are rich in nutrients essential for health.
But some vitamins, even those provided in the form of nutritional supplements, lack the shelf-life needed to span multi-year human missions to Mars, as envisioned by NASA's Artemis program. Planning ways to supply astronauts with vital nutrients for long-duration missions may require making or growing them in space. NASA's BioNutrients experiment is testing technology to do just that.
BioNutrients is more than halfway through a five-year trial aboard the International Space Station. The experiment, developed by scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, assesses the stability and performance of a hand-held system to manufacture fresh vitamins on-demand in space. Astronauts are not consuming the nutrients during this study, but the products are intended to be safe to eat.
BioNutrients test units, called production packs, contain specially prepared microorganisms, in this case yeast, that churn out vitamins - beta carotene and zeaxanthin. Astronauts start the production of nutrients by grabbing a pack, which is stored at room temperature, adding water, shaking to mix the contents, and warming the packs in an incubator - a device that controls environmental conditions such as temperature.
Read the complete article at www.spaceref.com.