Just as the reduced-gravity environment of space takes a toll on the human body's stamina, muscle mass and cardiovascular capacity, it can also adversely influence the body's ability to ingest and process vital nutrients. NASA research has found that returning crewmembers often experience significant alterations in their body's nutritional profile, including unexpected variations in levels of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrition-related elements.
HRP scientists and engineers address the unique challenges of providing crewmembers with adequate nutrition in the space environment. Through research and evaluation, nutritional countermeasures are being developed that may help reduce or prevent some of the adverse effects of space travel, such as bone and muscle loss and reduced cardiovascular capacity.
Another challenge that the HRP must work to overcome is developing shelf-stable food products that require minimal effort to prepare and offer crewmembers an enjoyable eating experience. As future missions require longer stays in space, food scientists expect the issues of space food shelf life and palatability to receive more research attention.