When we think about traveling to Mars, we forget about one of the biggestproblems we’ll have: how to take along enough food.

Food is heavy and carrying all that weight so far costs money. It could costas much as $53,000 to launch a pound of food into deep space. Eating anapple in space could cost $22,000. Astronauts on the International SpaceStation eat a diet of mostly freeze-dried foods, to which they add water.

A freeze-dried diet would be hard to stomach over the many years it wouldtake to make a round trip to Mars, so scientists are trying to figure outhow to make some favorite foods space-worthy.

One answer is to grow some of the food on the way there. On a short trip,astronauts could grow vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and carrots in aunit the size of a refrigerator, known as a “salad machine.” If they plan tostay on Mars awhile, they can build a greenhouse on the planet and grow foodthere.

Astronauts working on Mars will have to eat a vegetarian diet. However, theywill take along machines that can convert soy into meat and cheesesubstitutes. Researchers are now trying to create a vegetable-based pizzawith meat and cheese-like toppings that can compensate for the food cravingsastronauts are likely to get so far from home.

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