SAN DIEGO — Space guacamole — it’s an out of this world snack that may soon nourish astronauts occupying the cosmos.
Thanks to researchers at San Diego State University, space travelers may no longer have to jones for the popular avocado-based dip so many enjoy.
With the help of funding from NASA, those researchers are working to develop “a tasty algae-enhanced guacamole” that they say could help to sustain astronauts on long-term missions.
SDSU was one of 15 institutions selected to receive funding from NASA under a program that supports researchers in devising innovative new technologies for use in space exploration.
When asked why guacamole came to mind when brainstorming a new food creation for astronauts, the researchers pointed to microalgae and its many benefits.
As explained by the SDSU researchers, the biomass of microalgae is a rich source of essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Since it primarily relies on light and carbon dioxide, they say microalgae cultivation emerges as a viable option for long duration space travel.
“We had several meetings to brainstorm on different algae-based products that could be of interest for NASA. We thought about energy drinks, tortillas, etc. In the end, microalgae-enriched guacamole stood out for its appealing appearance and remarkable nutritional properties, offering a delightful way to fulfil the nutritional requirements of astronauts,” said Cristal Zuniga, an assistant biology professor and researcher at SDSU.
The question many are pondering: how will space guacamole be made?
“We will first come up with a space guacamole recipe with microalgae as the key ingredient. For this step, we will use mathematical models to control the chemical composition of the microalgae, ensuring an optimal balance of nutrients and flavor,” Zuniga explained. “Ultimately, our goal is to transform the guacamole into a dehydrated powder, which can be easily reconstituted in space to meet the nutritional needs of astronauts.”
Space guacamole research also holds promise for use here on Earth. The researchers say the product could be used as a superfood and for extending the shelf life of highly perishable avocados.
Currently, undergraduate and graduate students led by engineers, food scientists, chefs and avocado growers working on this project at SDSU.
“We aim to expand their (astronauts) culinary options while adding a fun element to space parties,” Zuniga told FOX 5.