NASA astronauts are turning into master chefs in a first-of-its-kind baking experiment in space. Astronauts at the International Space Station are tantalising their taste buds with first-ever chocolate chip cookies baked in space.
According to Independent, these cookies are the first known food ever baked in space. Using raw ingredients including chocolate chip, the bake-off took place in special Zero gravity or Zero-G oven. The result of the experiment was shared with their friends on Earth after the sealed cookies packed in individual baking pouches arrived on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on January 7.
The experiment was carried out by astronauts Luca Parmitano and Christina Koch with an objective to study the cooking options available in space for long trips. However, the cookies took much longer than it takes on Earth. Usually, cookies in a normal oven on our planet take 20-30 minutes to bake but in zero gravity space, it took them two hours to bake.
"There's still a lot to look into to figure out really what's driving that difference, but definitely a cool result," Mary Murphy, a manager for Texas-based Nanoracks, said as quoted. "Overall, I think it's a pretty awesome first experiment," she added.
So, how do they taste? The results are still unknown as these cookies arrived in sealed pouches that have been frozen in a lab close to Houston, Texas.
The baking experiment started in December using Nanorocks' specially designed small electric test oven that was sent to the space station last November. Parmitano, the astronaut who turned into master baker in space, baked five cookies and sent out the description word by word through radio station at the space centre.
The main aim of the experiment was to determine the right temperature and cooking time in space.
Starting with the first cookie, the experiment was conducted for 25 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The result was an under baked cookie. The astronauts doubled up the time for the second and the third cookie, but received unsatisfactory results.
The experiment gave promising results only with the fourth cookie in the oven. It was only with the fifth cookie at 325 degrees Fahrenheit and 130 minutes did she find the results satisfactory.
"So this time, I do see some browning," Parmitano radioed. "I can't tell you whether it's cooked all the way or not, but it certainly doesn't look like cookie dough anymore." she added.
Tweeting from space, NASA astronaut Koch wrote about baking cookies in space and said: "We made space cookies and milk for Santa this year. Happy holidays from the @Space_Station!"
The secondary objective of the experiment is to determine whether the cookies are safe to eat in space.