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Terrestrial Trivia

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How much do you know about foods eaten in space? Try your hand at this space food trivia! You'll enjoy out of this world fun—even with your feet planted firmly on Earth!

1. Which space mission was the first to use eating utensils?

a) Members of the Apollo 8 mission were the first to use eating utensils.

b) Utensils were commonly used on early Gemini missions.

c) Alan Shepard used eating utensils in his Freedom 7 capsule.

2. The top 5 foods that astronauts cite as foods they enjoy eating in space include:

a) potato chips, soft drinks, pizza, ice cream, and M&M's®

b) shrimp cocktail, lemonade, steak, M&M's®, and brownies

c) fish, sliced bread, pudding, tortillas, and ice cream

3. Who was the first U.S. astronaut to eat in space?

a) Alan Shepard b) John Glenn c) Neil Armstrong d) Virgil Grissom

4. How do astronauts wash their dishes?

a) They use a stream of water and a vacuum hose.

b) There is a small dishwasher in every Shuttle and ISS galley.

c) Sanitizing wipes are used on items that are not disposable.

d) Nothing is washed—plates, beverage containers, and silverware from each meal are stored and returned to Earth as trash.

5. M&M's® were first selected by astronauts to be included in the food supply for a space mission in what year?

a) 1974

b) 1965

c) 1981

6. True or False: Astronauts on Skylab in the 1970s could eat filet mignon while sitting at an actual dinner table and for dessert dine on ice cream that was stored in a freezer on board the station.

7. True or False: The space shuttle's fuel cells produce water which can be used to rehydrate foods.

8. What meal did Apollo astronauts eat on the Moon?

a) Astronauts did not eat at all during their stay on the moon.

b) Meal A—Bacon squares, peaches, sugar, cookie cubes, coffee, and pineapple-grapefruit drink.

c) Meal B—Beef stew, cream of chicken soup, date fruitcake, grape punch, and orange drink.

d) Meals in the lunar module included both Meal A and Meal B.

9. What is the shelf life that will be needed for food for astronauts traveling to Mars?

a) Six months to one year.

b) Over 3 years.

c) One to two years.

10. True or False: Water temperature for food preparation on the ISS is different than it is on the Shuttle—there is no chilled water on the ISS.

11. What two astronauts caused a stir by possessing a corned-beef sandwich smuggled aboard a space mission as part of a practical joke.

a) Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton

b) Virgil (Gus) Grissom and John Young

c) J. Gordon Cooper and Roger Chaffee

12. True or False: Carbonated drinks are often offered as part of the astronaut menu to prevent boredom from a steady diet of powdered beverages.
13. True or False: Astronauts on the ISS currently have use of a refrigerator, freezer, and microwave to prepare their food.

14. How many meals per day do astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) eat?

a) Astronauts need extra energy to complete space walks and other activities so they are encouraged to eat as many meals and snacks as they wish.

b) Astronauts need to stay slim because space is limited on the ISS, so they only are allowed to eat two meals per day.

c) Astronauts eat three meals and one snack per day similar to what they might eat on Earth.

15. Does the taste of food change in space?

a) Because of the microgravity environment, all food has a slight metallic taste in space.

b) Food always tastes exactly the same in space as it does at home on Earth.

c) It is possible that an astronaut may feel that a food tastes different in space because of physical changes that occur in the body during microgravity.

16. True or False: The United States (NASA) provides all the food for International Space Station missions.

17. An astronaut on Skylab space station in the 1970s might have used a beverage container that looked somewhat like

a) a plastic accordion

b) a metal tube

c) a metal can

18. True or False: Tortillas are rarely used in space because sliced bread tastes better and is easier to handle.

19. How much food might an astronaut consume on a three-year space mission such as a trip to Mars?

a) 3,000+ pounds

b) 6,000+ pounds

c) 1,500 pounds

20. True or False: Fresh foods are never allowed on space missions because they will spoil quickly and are hard to dispose of.

21. On an International Space Station mission an astronaut's menu is repeated

a) every 7 days

b) every 8 days

c) every 10 days

22. True or False: Food that is freeze-dried has had all the water taken out of it.

23. What did Expedition 6 crewmember Don Pettit chose to bring back to Earth as a souvenir of his time spent on the International Space Station?

a) a space food tray

b) several cans of uneaten Russian space food

c) three Russian-made long-handled eating spoons

24. True or False: Astronauts get no say in what foods they are allowed to consume in space. Instead, menus are based solely on dietary needs that nutritionists indicate are necessary for an individual to complete a successful mission.
25. True or False: Astronauts typically gain weight in space.

26. What do astronauts say is the most important utensil required for eating in microgravity?

a) knife

b) spoon

c) scissors

27. True or False: The freeze-dried ice cream that can be purchased at specialty stores is just like that eaten by astronauts on space missions today.

28. What food item was grown from the Expedition 2 stock of food?

a) an orange plant

b) an onion plant

c) a grapefruit plant

(Check for answers at the bottom of this page.)

How did you score?

If you scored 23 or above—Your Terrestrial Trivia brain power is out of this world!

18-22 correct—You rank proudly among Terrestrial Trivia stars!

8-17 correct—Terrestrial Trivia has nothing on you!

Less than 8 correct—Keep studying those space food facts—future astronauts may depend on you!

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Excerpts taken from NASA Facts-Space Food, NASA Human Spaceflight Space Facts, NASA FTCSC bookmarks, and NASA FTCSC Space Food Insights by Dr. Charles Bourland, and Vickie Kloeris.

1.a) Eating utensils were first used during the Apollo 8 mission to the moon on December 1968. Before that, food and beverages were either consumed through a straw or tube or were eaten by hand.

2. b) The top five foods that astronauts most often request in space are: 1. Shrimp cocktail, 2. lemonade, 3. steak, 4. M&M's, and 5. brownies.

3. b) On February 20, 1962, John Glenn ate applesauce from an aluminum tube and chewed on several small malted milk tablets, making him the first U.S. astronaut to eat in space.

4. c) All space food items come in disposable packaging, so astronauts do not need to wash any dishes except their utensils. They are simply wiped clean with a sanitizing wipe.

5. c) In 1981, M&M chocolate candies were chosen for the first time by the space shuttle astronauts for inclusion in their food supply.

6. True. Unlike previous space vehicles, Skylab featured a large interior with a dining room and table. Footholds allowed astronauts to "sit" at the table to eat. Skylab also had space for a freezer and refrigerator, which no other vehicle has offered before or since.

7. True. Weight can be conserved during launch by removing water from food. During flight, water generated by shuttle fuel cells is added back to the food before it is eaten.

8. d) Meals in the lunar module during Apollo 11 included Meal A- bacon squares, peaches, sugar cookie cubes, coffee, pineapple-grapefruit drink; and Meal B-beef stew, cream of chicken soup, date fruitcake, grape punch, and orange drink. Meal A was the first food scheduled to be eaten on the Moon.

9. b) Foods for a trip to Mars will need a minimum shelf life of three to five years. This is because a mission to Mars could last up to three years; including a six to eight month transit to Mars, an 18-month stay, and another six to eight months transit home.

10. True. Water temperature available for food preparation is different on Station than Shuttle. The space shuttle has chilled water. On the ISS there is no chilled water, crewmembers have only ambient, warm, and hot water available.

11. b) During a Gemini 3 flight, John Young presented Virgil (Gus) Grissom with a corned-beef sandwich he smuggled on board as a practical joke.

12. False. The bubbles of carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages aren't buoyant in a weightless environment so they remain randomly distributed throughout the fluid even after swallowing and can become a foamy mess during space travel. Experiments have been conducted using special microgravity dispensers for soda, but as yet they have not been perfected. Even if a microgravity dispenser is perfected, there is no guarantee that carbonated beverages will be used in space. In space, with the absence of microgravity, the carbon dioxide bubbles in carbonated beverages go through an astronaut's digestive system, rather than being belched out as on Earth, and may cause adverse side effects.

13) False. Food prepared for the ISS needs to be able to stay stable at room temperature for nine to 12 months because there is no refrigerator or freezer available. A refrigerator would take a good deal of power to run. Instead of using microwave ovens, food is heated in a forced-air convection oven for 20 minutes prior to eating.

14. c) Astronauts on the ISS follow the Russian schedule of eating three meals and one snack per day.

15. c) Astronauts have reported changes that vary from food not tasting the same on orbit to a complete dislike for a previously liked food or beverage. This is attributed to physiological alterations that occur in microgravity.

16. False. The U.S. and Russia each provide half of the food supplied for the ISS. Items from each country arrive at the station on separate pallets and are stored inside the same cabinet located in the Zvesda module. The Russian Space Agency primarily uses cans to preserve its food while NASA uses flexible foil packaging.

17. a) Skylab beverage containers looked similar to a plastic accordion.

18. False. Astronauts enjoy eating tortillas and find them a practical solution to a potentially messy situation. Crumbs, a byproduct of bread, can be inhaled, clog filtration systems, or jam delicate equipment in a closed, microgravity environment. Tortillas are practically crumb-free.

19. a) During a mission an astronaut consumes approximately 3 pounds of food per day. Because of this, an astronaut would need more than three thousand pounds of food for a three-year Mission to Mars.

20. False. Fresh foods have been in demand since early Shuttle days. They were first used on STS-6 in April 1983. Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded on the spacecraft 16 to 24 hours prior to launch and on-orbit shelf life is two to three days for most items because there is no refrigerator. Fresh foods are also brought on Shuttle or Progress resupply flights at planned 90-day intervals.

21. c) The initial six day cycle menu used on Expedition 1 was too short to give sufficient variety. Beginning with Expedition 2, the menu cycle was expanded to eight days. The menu cycle was later increased to 10 days beginning with Expedition 8.

22. True. Freeze-dried foods are ideal for space travel because they are light weight, do not need refrigeration, and are contained in flexible packages that aid in trash compacting.

23. c) Because of limited space, Pettit chose only three Russian-made long-handled eating spoons as his precious cargo back to Earth.

24. False. Astronauts taste-test food prior to their launch and choose which foods they would like to eat on their flight.

25. False. Astronauts usually lose weight during space missions. Nutritionists carefully watch to ensure that they eat enough calories and receive necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

26. c) Because each food item comes in a separate package, scissors are the most important utensil required for eating in microgravity.

27. False. In the mid 1960s U.S. Army Natick Laboratories developed freeze-dried ice cream. The freeze-dried ice cream developed for space was not exactly what is sold today. To produce freeze-dried ice cream for space, a mixture of coconut fat,milk solids, and sugar was homogenized, frozen, then freeze-dried, ground and compressed into cubes under high pressure. The cubes were then coated with an edible gelatin coating to prevent crumbs. The product sold today is ice cream that has been cut into cubes and freeze-dried. Freeze-dried ice cream was taken into space only one time, in 1968 on Apollo 7 when astronauts Wally Schirra, Don Eisele, and Walter Cunningham tested the Earth orbit of the Apollo Command Module in preparation for the Moon Landing. Records are not available, but most of the product must have been returned, since this is the only time freeze-dried ice cream was used in space.

28. b) Expedition Two's Yury Usachev was unpacking food from a Progress resupply ship when he found some onions that had sprouted. He wrapped them in wet rags and sealed them in plastic bags until they were about a foot long. The plants bore onions which the crew harvested and enjoyed.

Web author: Regina Hendrickson rhendric@iastate.edu