Thursday Evening Open Thread: Mars Needs Epicurious!

Sounds better than 3D printed pizza, anyways. Andy Isaacson, in the New Yorker, explains that “In Space, No One Can Hear Your Takeout Order”:

In April, six people entered a geodesic dome, just thirty-six feet in diameter, perched on the barren, reddish slopes of the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa. They will be there until August, simulating that they are living on Mars. Their mission: to eat.

While humans are decades away from potentially becoming an invasive species on Mars, it’s not too soon for NASA to think about how astronauts will feed themselves when they arrive. A question like “How much water is needed to make a beef tagine?” must be answered by engineers well in advance. Funded by NASA’s Human Research Program, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation’s four-month mission is to compare classic astronaut fare of pre-made, prepackaged meals to a new system that allows for combining a limited number of shelf-stable ingredients.

The crew of six terranauts, selected from a pool of seven hundred applicants, alternate between two days of prepackaged meals and two days of dome home cooking; chef duties are executed in pairs. The pantry has been stocked with ingredients like flax seeds, sourdough starter, anchovies, egg-white crystals, dried hijiki seaweed, and canned Spam—a nod to local cuisine, as well as Pacific U.S. military history. While the crew completed cooking classes at Cornell prior to entering the habitat, no member has professional culinary experience. They are relying on a cookbook and a mission-support group, which is available for twelve hours a day to hunt down online recipes and answer operational questions. (There is, however, a twenty-minute time delay between the dome and the support group, to simulate the communication gap with Mars.)….

Nifty discussion of the search for why astronauts lose weight* in space at the link.

*okay, smartarses — ‘mass’

In other sci-fi news, via Paul Constant, there’s a groundswell to name a park in Tacoma after Frank Herbert.

Apart from skiffy geek goodness, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

62 replies
  1. 1
    YellowJournalism says:

    Terrible flooding here in Alberta from near Calgary on down. Hope there’s no Canadian BJers in that area.

  2. 2
    Redshirt says:

    Anyone, besides me, visit the Biosphere? It’s awesome, despite whatever you’ve heard. And it could shelter/feed several dozen people on Mars.

    If you like cool engineering, check it out.

  3. 3
    gogol's wife says:

    I keep advertising the Mamie van Doren marathon on TCM! It’s fab!

  4. 4
    Redshirt says:

    I’ve also become fairly anti-Mars colony. I used to be gung ho. But what would be accomplished? I can understand a celebratory touchdown to prove we could do it if we want to, but colonizing Mars on the other hand is a losing proposition. Better to build space stations.

  5. 5
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Go Spurs.

  6. 6
    Keith says:

    Tony Bourdain did a show in Canada somewhere where he ate on a frozen lake in an ice fishing hut. He and his companions ate out of small jars, but the meals were high gourmet – some kind of rabbit blood/liver dish (that was also featured on an ep of Treme that he consults for), and various other amazing sounding dishes, often topped with shaved truffles. As they kept bringing out more and more jars, I was thinking “why aren’t astronauts hauling these up in space instead of glorified MREs?”

  7. 7
    Yatsuno says:

    Mmm…at least it sounds like they can make musubi. Plus to really simulate the experience they should be recycling waste water.

    In other news, the NYD and I called it quits.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Redshirt: Isn’t that a Paulie Shore movie?

  9. 9

    Apparently there is some sort of game involving baskets and balls going on here in Miami. Anybody heard anything about that?

  10. 10
    Keith says:

    Can’t update my post, but after searching, the rabbit dish is called Lièvre à la Royale.

  11. 11
    Yatsuno says:

    @Mustang Bobby: I heard it involved some dude from Cleveland. But that could just be a rumour.

  12. 12
    2liberal says:


    pardon me if this is a weighty issue for you – but what is a NYD?

  13. 13
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Yatsuno: Condolences — I assume.

  14. 14
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I was just about to make a joke about not wanting to be stuck anywhere with Stephen Baldwin.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Keith: This?

  16. 16
    Yatsuno says:

    @2liberal: New York Dawg, also known as my love life complication.

    @Anne Laurie: Grazie, although as far as partings go this one isn’t too bad. The door closed but didn’t lock.

  17. 17
    Redshirt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes. And it was filmed in the actual Biosphere. Still doesn’t make it any less cool. For instance, they’ve got a rain forest, an ocean, and a desert – inside.

  18. 18

    @Redshirt: That sounds like my parents’ basement.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    also known as my love life complication

    I once described someone in similar terms. The she and I got married and divorced (I have compressed the timeline a little). Sounds like you managed to become single again without the legal mumbo jumbo. Condolences or hoorays, as appropriate.

  20. 20
    piratedan says:

    @Redshirt: the thought is that you would have to seed Mars with specially crafted biotech in order to start building the gasses required to craft an atmosphere. Then load it up with some pollution (per se) to start a greenhouse effect to warm the planet up for stage three, manufactured microbes for terraforming. The advances in biotech and in handling our own environmental issues could take a huge leap forward with that kind of project.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @piratedan: That’s not what Ahnuld did.

  22. 22
    Keith says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yep. Alain Ducasse features it at one of his restaurants as well (a slightly more elaborate version). Crazy Canadians made it in a freakin’ jar. Apparently, jar cooking is the new sous vide. And the interesting thing is, the guys (a pair of brothers) said they eat like that every day. Every anecdote I’ve heard from chefs is that they eat crap or comfort food at home, but these guys say they feast restaurant style every damn day!

  23. 23
    JWL says:

    “No, no, not at all. You won’t be a guinea pig. You’ll be a terranaut”!

    “Well, OK, then. Sign me up”.

  24. 24
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Yatsuno: Thinking of you. As Omnes says, condolences or yippees, as appropriate.

  25. 25
    Yatsuno says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Condolences or hoorays, as appropriate

    More condolence than hooray, but it helped that I knew it was coming. When he started law school prep I had an inkling that I’d have to let him go, temporarily if not permanently. Now that he’s off to New Haven he’ll be lucky if he has time to breathe, let alone keep up with me. I did make him promise to invite me to his graduation.

  26. 26
    Dolly Llama says:

    Posted this at the end of a dead thread below, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott looks exactly like the monster robot from the cover of Queen’s “News of the World” album.

  27. 27
    piratedan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: well I wasn’t sure that screwing the help was part of the bigger picture for exploring space, but hey with the requirements these days, who knows?

  28. 28
    2liberal says:


    re: biosphere. I have been, a few years back. is it still open as a tourist attraction? I thought they closed the tours down.

    it actually didn’t work as a closed environment – there was a huge mass of bacteria sucking up the O2 and giving off the CO2.

  29. 29
    gogol's wife says:


    He must be very foolish.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @piratedan: Science can be very complicated and demand great sacrifices.

  31. 31
    Yatsuno says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Science can be very complicated and demand great sacrifices.

    And Spam.

  32. 32
    piratedan says:

    @2liberal: aye, the University of Arizona runs it now:

    still run tours daily (except select holidays)

  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:


    Ugh. Long-distance relationships are really, really hard. Hopefully the future will be better for both of you, whatever it holds.

  36. 36
    Yatsuno says:

    @piratedan: My grandparents used to run housing for international students. They would get pineapple Tang. You have not lived until you’ve had that shit.

  37. 37

    @Yatsuno: {{{hugs}}} I hope you are OK…

  38. 38
    piratedan says:

    @Yatsuno: probably goes well with Spam, after all, the Hawaiians swear by the stuff.

  39. 39

    @Yatsuno: There is a pineapple Tang? I have only had the orange one.

  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:

    This story reminds me a bit of one of my favorite episodes of “From the Earth to the Moon” — “Galileo Was Right,” which has the Apollo 15 astronauts going through some basic geology training so they have a better idea of what to look for when they land on the surface of the Moon.

    In other news, I started developing a migraine right around 3:00 this afternoon, so I’m eating some soup for dinner and then heading to a dark room to lie down for a while. Ugh.

  41. 41
    Baud says:


    The Spam and Tang would be a great name for a Hawaiian pub.

  42. 42
    piratedan says:

    @Baud: sign on the door, Vikings get an extra 10% off of any food order!

  43. 43

    *okay, smartarses — ‘mass’

    Actually if go to the moon, you do lose weight since gravitational acceleration on the moon is 1/6 to that of the earth.

    Weight =mass * gravitational acceleration

  44. 44

    @schrodinger’s cat: Missing a you, after the if. WP won’t let me edit my comment.

  45. 45
    Baud says:


    Real Vikings don’t pay for stuff.

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    You also lose weight at the equator.

  46. 46
    Hal says:

    This day is so blah for me. I’ve decided the only thing worse than not having a job is having a job that pays shit. Nothing like working 50+ hours a week while trying to finish college just to barely pay your bills. I need the college degree for a real career and a shot at decent money, but damn if I’m not wishing hard for a lotto win, which of course will never happen. I spent a couple of hours earlier in the day googling shit like “why you shouldn’t give up on your dreams” to talk me back from the ledge. Why I couldn’t I have been born rich, or really attractive? At least I could make money as a stripper.

  47. 47
    mdblanche says:

    Former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer had a fun little interview with Roll Call about whether or not he’ll run for the Senate.

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:


    Does that mean you also gain weight at the poles (and not just from the extra clothing)?

  49. 49
    Baud says:


    Yep. About a pound, I think.

  50. 50

    @Baud: But not as much as you do if you go to the moon.

  51. 51
    Yatsuno says:

    @Mnemosyne: International ones are even more entertaining. I don’t regret the Canuckistani at all, but yeah, that took a shit ton of communication. And that wasn’t his strongest suit.

    @schrodinger’s cat: It’s from the Middle East. I think the family that gave it to them was from Pakistan, but I’m not entirely sure now.

  52. 52
    Diana says:

    @YellowJournalism: And I hope they don’t support drilling oil from the tar sands … because stuff like the Keystone pipeline is exactly what exacerbates climate change…

  53. 53
    RSA says:

    In other sci-fi news, via Paul Constant, there’s a groundswell to name a park in Tacoma after Frank Herbert.

    Jeez, the main landscape feature in any desert calls to mind his signature work already…

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    As one might expect, Fred Clark has an interesting take on today’s Exodus announcement. Apparently the language used in the statement was much stronger for an evangelical audience than we non-evangelicals seemed to realize.

  55. 55
    Redshirt says:

    So here’s Redshirt’s 5 easy steps towards colonization of the stars:

    1. Build a self sustaining dome in the desert on Earth
    2. Build a self sustaining dome under at least 300 feet of water
    3. Build a self sustaining dome on the North/South pole of the Moon
    4. Build a self sustaining spaceship
    5. Profit

  56. 56
    eemom says:


    Very sorry to hear about NYD. Seemed like you were into him a lot.

    Also too, makes me want to weep that anyone would give up something good for law school, ferfuxsake. Sheeyit, another five years and they’ll be selling us on the 99 cent rack at Walmart.

  57. 57
    Yatsuno says:

    @eemom: Well…like I said, how permanent this is might be up in the air. I think he’s worrying over his work load too much. Plus he’s surprised me before.

  58. 58
    ruemara says:

    Sitting in the broadcast booth for my last televised school board meeting and wishing my regulars well, if the budget decision next month goes as expected. Having had a spate of disappointing to devastating developments in the past 2 weeks, I’m just trying to keep myself amused and if not positive, less shut down. I looked at a lot of bunny and cat posts on buzzfeed. Did not really realize NN 2013 was in SJ. I’d go for a BJ meetup except for two obstacles: getting there and coming back. Everything else would be a go!

    @Yutsano :( relationships. Who knows how this will develop, but I hope things are ok with you now.

  59. 59
    pat says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    after I click on this (so glad this particular kitteh is not sleeping on my pillow, btw) I can’t return to BJ.

    I haz a sad.

  60. 60

    @pat: Why not, is it because you are afraid of Tunch? Don’t worry Tunch has a good supply of meat, before he needs to eat the commenters.

  61. 61
    Lawrence says:

    I remember the press coverage of the Boisphere missions was derisive. One article, which I can not now find, reported that the ocean system failed because the scientists ate the lobster population to extinction (silly environmentalists). But the Arizona Republic wouldn’t print anything that wasn’t true, right? The Wikki entry does not mention that either, and reading it I was reminded that in science you can learn as much from failure as success. So, good luck to the dome dwellers. Maybe they can get a plug on Food Network.

  62. 62
    Jacel says:

    The playground in a Frank Herbert Park ought to have an awesome sandbox.

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