Baking A Cake on Mars

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Can We Bake a Cake on Mars?

Explore what it would take to bake a cake on Mars with OMSI Educator Alexe – she is on a mission to bring the perfect birthday cake to the Mars Curiosity Rover. Wish her luck! 

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The first foods eaten in space were paste! Yum? 

Yuri Gagarin, the first person to travel in space, proved that eating in a weightless environment was possible by slurping beef and liver paste followed by a tube of chocolate sauce for dessert. Since then, food scientists have developed many diverse food items NOT in paste form for astronauts to eat.   

Today, food is delivered via unmanned spacecraft to crewmembers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) about every two months. US astronauts can choose from 200 different pre-packaged meals that are developed, prepared, and packaged by The Space Food Systems Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Aside from a small supply of fresh or frozen items, all food must be stored at room temperature on the ISS. 

But what about cake? As of 2022, astronauts have never baked a cake on the ISS. But they have made cookies! Cookie dough was sent to the ISS in 2019. Astronauts baked the cookies for different amounts of time. The cookies baked for two hours in the onboard over turned out best.

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch examines the first cookie baked in space  (Image credit: NASA)

Of course, baking on the ISS is not too different from baking on Earth. Sure, they are in microgravity, but the ISS is a pressurized environment, providing 14.7 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi), the same as sea level on Earth. Mars has almost zero atmospheric pressure (only 0.095 psi). How do you think that would change the baking process?

Glossary 

Microgravity environment: a place where gravity is nearly zero, like the International Space Station. Also called weightlessness.

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