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Journalist's Report


Anastasiya Stepanova

Today I will answer the two main questions I have been asked by the majority of the audience, which is far from science and space, since my public outreach was spreading.  First one was: “What is to be like the only girls in the crew?”.  It was amazingly comfortable to be with five guys in one team. They are straight forward, simple, responsible and easy going. Moreover they cook much better than some women and later you will read why. Some might think that I liked to be among guys, because they treat me as a princess. No way! In this mission no differences, we are all united by one goal and we don’t see each other as handsome guy or pretty girl. That is why we feel relaxed around each other. We can talk about any domestic issue or stomach problems, basically about anything that back at home you would be shy to talk about with a guy. I would never imagine myself walking around men or people in general, with seven days dirty hair. Everyone cares more about personality and research projects, rather than how do you look. I found it rare in today’s world, where cover matters more than what you really worth. I’m happy to be in the same crew with such interesting, creative, fun men of integrity.

Second question was: “What did you do out there, did you starve?”. Another surprise – the food was tasty and we did not starve at all. Experiments were not only at MDRS science laboratory, but also in our kitchen.  We call it culinary experiments using freeze dried dehydrated food. Drying is a method of food preservation that inhabits the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and mold through the removal of water. Why we have to cook here from only dehydrated ingredients? Because this kind of food we going to have in real Martian mission. Dehydrated food weight much less, not mentioning that it can preserve for long period of time. How we have been cooking having such unusual ingredients? Well, first of all you rehydrate the food, simply by putting it into hot or cold water. It doesn’t matter if it is a meat or vegetables, you cook them just a couple of minutes. Fruits can be eaten as they are or rehyrdated. However, dehydrated fruit may be nutritionally inferior to its source. Dehydrated grapes have been shown to be depleted in antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, ORAC) and B vitamins. Two cookbooks (The Joy of Cooking and Mars Home Cooking) and our talented crew members (Ian Silversides, Paul Knightly and Paul Sokoloff) provided most of meal time inspiration. You would be surprised what the crew cooked having not much diversity of ingredients: homemade bread for lunch and supper, apple pie, salmon burgers and potatoes with mushroom, carrot cake, homemade pizza, pancakes with bacon, different soups, chocolate chip cookie muffins, quesadillas. Sounds like real restaurant menu, isn’t it? The only downside of this this kind of food is the adaptation of our stomach to it. Now we understand why we have so many Gas relief pills in the Hab. The crew thoroughly enjoyed preparing and sharing meals, it was the best moments of true bonding, fun and creativity.