What will astronauts eat on Mars?

The window of a space shuttle shows the view of a planet.

Forget rocket science: figuring out how crews of space explorers will access fresh healthy food is the real challenge.

The University of Adelaide’s Professor Matthew Gilliham, Director of the Waite Research Institute and Associate Professor Jenny Mortimer from the School of Agriculture Food and Wine will provide an insight into this critical project on Tuesday 10 May at the Research Tuesdays lecture.

Humanity has big plans for space: a new international space station orbiting the moon within five years; a lunar settlement this decade; and a crewed mission to Mars by 2040.

In all cases, the rocket science required presents significant challenges. But, in many ways, that’s the easy part. Arguably the greatest current obstacle to long-term crewed space exploration is the difficulty of keeping fresh, healthy food on astronauts’ plates.

Regularly resupplying the pantry from Earth isn’t the simple option it seems. It’s also not yet possible to keep large stores of food nutritionally stable in space for long periods of time.

Astronauts are going to have to grow their own food – but how? And how do the required innovations help us to improve the sustainability of food production on Earth? The University of Adelaide is mobilising multi-disciplinary teams to tackle these research questions.

WHAT: Research Tuesdays: Crater to plate

WHEN: Tuesday, 10 May, 2022

TIME: 5.30pm

WHERE: The Braggs Building, North Terrace campus, the University of Adelaide.

COST: Free (registration for webinar and in-person attendance).

FURTHER DETAILS: www.adelaide.edu.au/research/events/research-tuesdays

PARTICIPATE ONLINE: Webinar Registration - Zoom

REGISTER: Research Tuesdays: Crater to plate Tickets, Tue, May 10 2022 at 5:30 PM | Eventbrite


Professor Matthew Gilliham is Director of the University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute. He is a current Web of Science Highly Cited Author (one of only 196 plant and animal scientists globally to achieve this level of influence), and past Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Matt is also a former winner of the Australian Government’s Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture.

Associate Professor Jenny Mortimer is the Associate Professor of Plant Synthetic Biology in the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology. She is also the leader of the California-based Joint BioEnergy Institute Plant Systems Biology Group, and was recognised as a World Economic Forum Young Scientist in 2016 and 2017.

Tagged in news brief, space, astronauts, research, agriculture, Waite Research Institute, STEM, food