By Larissa Zhou and Adam Zachar
Food is crucial to maintaining the physical and psychological health of humans in space. Eating food provides nutrients and energy. Preparing food can promote relaxation and creativity. Sharing food improves crew cohesion. But most foods are perishable, bulky, and heavy. For deep space missions, it is not feasible to ship all the food from Earth. Instead, growing and processing crops during deep space missions “represents the greatest means of self-sufficiency for a crew habitat over the long term” .
Food processing tools are the missing link in a sustainable food supply chain for long term space habitation. While the ISS contains a water dispenser, a food warmer, and even a test oven, there has been limited work to develop tools for in-situ processing of raw ingredients into delicious, nutritious food. Specifically, fluid-mediated cooking in microgravity poses challenges in terms of fluid and thermal management.
We are designing a device, nicknamed H0TP0T, to enable liquid-mediated cooking in partial gravity conditions. We'll test the first prototype on a parabolic flight in May 2021, made possible by an exciting collaboration with the MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative.
 Perchonok, Michele H., Maya R. Cooper, and Patricia M. Catauro. "Mission to Mars: food production and processing for the final frontier." Annual review of food science and technology 3 (2012): 311-330. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-food-022811-101222.