Space food: Martian potatoes and space ‘idlis’
As astronauts prepare for new frontiers, food is essential to the space survival kit of the future
In Ridley Scott’s 2015 film The Martian, stranded astronaut Mark Watney’s (played by Matt Damon) act of growing potatoes on the red planet is one of his first and most basic acts of survival. The idea of cultivating food on a planet without the atmosphere or water levels needed to do so is nearly as groundbreaking as the first crops that were planted on earth by Neolithic farmers around 9500 BC. A series of complicated scientific calculations and experiments later, when Watney is able to succeed and the first batch of potatoes in his improvised greenhouse sprout little green leaves, there is a sense of exuberant achievement that passed from the screen to the cinema goers. It brought with it the conviction that life on Mars isn’t such an impossible dream after all.