On Tuesday, six scientists emerged from an abandoned quarry on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano after spending four months simulating what it is like to live on Mars.
The Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, is a NASA-funded study led by Cornell University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The goal of the study was to find foods that astronauts would be able eat and prepare on long-term missions to deep space, like a trip to Mars.
For 118 days, mission commander Angelo Vermeulen and his team members cooked, ate, and kept detailed records of meals made from dehydrated and shelf-stable ingredients from their pantry. The list of available foods included everything from freeze-dried chicken to milk powder to crackers.
Based on pictures (unfortunately we weren’t able to taste the food for ourselves), the dining on Mars doesn’t look to be half-bad.
The space habitat is located 8,000 feet above sea level on the side of a Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Loa.
A two-story dome featured a ground floor with a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, lab, exercise room, and common spaces. Here's a view of the rooms on the day the crew arrived.
A fully-stocked kitchen came equipped with a bread maker, rice maker, pressure cookers, a stove, oven, and countless other appliances and utensils.
The crew got a crash course in cooking at the Cornell University test kitchen before the mission began. In this picture they are learning how to make bread and pizza from scratch.
Researchers held a recipe contest before the start of the study. They asked people to submit recipes using ingredients from the pantry list. 20-five recipes were selected, many of which included Spam, a canned meat popular in Hawaiian cooking and known for its long shelf-life.
A Thai red curry with tofu and jasmine rice dish was one of the first meals prepared at the space habitat. Dehydrated sliced potatoes, carrots, and onions were among the ingredients. The crew thought it was so good, they decided to test out green curry paste next.
Crew geologist Oleg Abramov shared his recipe for Russian cabbage soup and pelmeni (Russian dumpling), which was made with freeze-dried roast beef.
The first audience-submitted recipe the crew whipped up was a breakfast dish called Tibetan Tsampa Porridge. Tsampa is a milled barely grain. According to the scientists tsampa makes the perfect space food because 'it's quick, easy to make, and has a lot of nutritional bang for its buck.'
To make the porridge even tastier, there are a bunch of optional add-ins to choose from, including freeze-dried raspberries, blueberries, apple dices, banana chips, dehydrated apricots, brown sugar, and honey.
Next up is Moroccan beef tagine. The chefs were worried this recipe was going to be too complicated because of a long list of ingredients.
'Martian skin' was one of the dessert recipes submitted. It's just a a box of lime-flavored jello and water. The crew liked it because it was easy to make and fun to play with.
But we'd much rather eat this dark chocolate cupcake with fluffy frosting, which took home first place in the 'dessert and snack' category.
The team had to change some of the vegetables based on what was available in the pantry, but liked the flexibility.
Lemon blueberry cornmeal pancakes and no-crust quiche muffins took home first in the 'breakfast' category.
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