Platinum Seminar - Dr Grace Douglas - NASA Johnson Space Center

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Event Details

26 September 2019 at 4:00 pm – 26 September 2019 at 5:00 pm
Lecture Theatre E7, Building 72, 14 Alliance Lane
Open to:
Alumni; Conferences & Exhibitions; Engineering; International Future Students


Seminar abstract

The space food system is central to crew health and performance, but there are numerous challenges to provisioning an adequate system within the limited resources available on long-duration exploration missions. Shelf life studies have shown that the processed, shelf-stable foods used on the International Space Station (ISS) will only retain acceptable nutrition and quality for one to three years under ambient storage conditions. On a Mars mission the food may be prepositioned prior to crew launch, with no resupply, and possibly with no refrigeration, requiring stability for at least five years.

Due to mass, volume, and other logistical constraints, the food for a multi-year Mars mission may be more limited in variety and choice than it currently is on 6-month ISS missions. Unacceptable food, either due to menu fatigue from limited choice or due to nutritional or quality degradation, may lead to under-consumption, body mass loss, muscle loss, and eventually nutritional deficiencies that may affect physical and behavioural health and performance. Technologies that provide a food system with adequate nutrition, acceptability, variety, and safety for long-duration missions are a critical need to support the success of human space exploration. Studies addressing formulation, processing, packaging, and storage strategies may help increase shelf life and/or reduce mass and volume.

Alternative provisioning strategies, such as inclusion of bioregenerative salad crops grown during a mission, are challenged by resource constraints, and food safety and reliability concerns, but offer potential nutrition and variety solutions. Technologies that support personalized nutrition may enhance individual health. Studies addressing food system improvements and health outcomes could lead to the design of more efficient, targeted dietary interventions. Results from these studies will help to determine an optimal food system strategy and will identify areas where additional research is required to improve shelf life or food system composition.


Dr Grace Douglas, NASA Johnson Space Centre, Houston, United States

Dr. Grace Douglas serves as the lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research effort, which focuses on determining methods, technologies, and requirements for developing a safe, nutritious, and palatable food system that will promote astronaut health during long-duration space missions.

Her responsibilities include assessing the risk of an inadequate food system to crew based on vehicle design and mission concept and developing the research path that will ensure the food system meets crew health requirements on spaceflight vehicles.

She earned a B.S. and M.S. in food science from the Pennsylvania State University and North Carolina State University, respectively, and a Ph.D. in functional genomics from North Carolina State University.

Dr Lin Lin
+61 3 9905 4682
Department of Chemical Engineering Australia-China Joint Research Centre in Future Dairy Manufacturing