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Mars food: Researchers in a Hawaiian dome simulate dining on Mars

A just-completed experiment to simulate life -- and eating -- on Mars turned up plenty of delicious recipes. Perhaps astronauts on Mars will one day dine on quiche muffins, pancakes, lemon dill pasta salad and an Asian-fusion Spam-and-egg baowich.

Can a "Martian Meals" cookbook be far behind?

The ingredients brought along included: durable canned proteins such as anchovies, tuna and Spam, freeze-fried bacon, turkey and crab; grains including rice, oatmeal, quinoa and farro; a wide array of condiments such as ketchup and marmalades; beans, baking items, nuts, freeze-dried fruits and veggies, seven different types of curry seasonings, four different types of teas, and something called "high intensity sweetener."

It all made for a well-stocked pantry as the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-Seas) mission launched its mock space exploration habitat on the slopes of Mauna Loa on the island of Hawai, chosen for its relative likeness to the Red Planet.

The 120-day mission, which ended Tuesday, gave a fleet of experts -- including scientists, designers, engineers and artists -- insights into what it would take to fully outfit and fully feed a space mission. The experiment was limited to six researchers who shared a small dome on the barren Hawaii lava field located at 8,000 feet above sea level.

"The main aim is to find the most adequate food system (i.e., shelf-stable ingredients, pre-packaged meals, a combination thereof) for long-term missions beyond low-Earth orbit," according to the study's mission statement.

To keep things interesting, the Hi-Seas mission involved recipe contests, with the winners chosen by the crew. Many of the breakfasts, lunches and dinners were twists on fairly standard fare and had recipe names to match.

The sparks of creativity crackled especially brightly when it came to dessert. First place went to something called Dark Matter Cake, made with mayonnaise and coffee and topped off with Stardust Frosting. Second-place honors went to the fruit-filled Hawaiian Celebration Cake, and third place went to Crater Crunch Bars

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