One of the coolest things about being chosen for a mission to the International Space Station is that you get to carry out experiments that show just how different life in space is when compared to Earth. Recently, astronauts had the opportunity to do something that has never been done before: baking cookies in space.
The experiment was designed to test the capabilities of the so-called “Zero-G Oven,” which was built specifically for baking in the microgravity environment of the space station. This might sound like a trivial exercise, but the results were truly surprising.
Baking raw cookies in space is actually a lot harder than it is on Earth, and that became immediately apparent once the astronauts removed their first batch from the oven. Placing the cookies in the oven at a similar temperature and for the same amount of time as you would on Earth resulted in cookies that were basically still raw.
Even after doubling the baking time to 50 minutes, the cookies were still not even close to being done. Eventually, the astronauts stuck a cookie in the oven for a whopping two hours and that proved to be the right amount of time. Another attempt at 130 minutes returned even better results.
Unfortunately for the crew, the cookies couldn’t be eaten. Instead, they were stored and sent back to Earth so that scientists can examine them and determine how well cooked they truly are.
It’s a simple experiment, but it’s work like this that will be increasingly important as we inch toward a day when astronauts will embark on long-distance trips to places like Mars. Knowing how food can be prepared in space, and what unique challenges those missions might face will be key to ensuring things go smoothly years in the future.