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RESEARCH PROPOSAL

Kylie Haynie
Independent Research II GT
2017-2018

Title: From Flint to Flight, a Study of Food Preservation in Microgravity

Introduction and Overview of Research:


This investigation studies the effects certain forms of food preservation poses to the macro
nutritional value of food consumed in space. In order to remain healthy and avoid malnourishment,
astronauts must eat adequately and consume foods that have high macro nutritional value. However,
because of certain implications, astronauts cannot always get what they require through food stored up
on the International Space Station. Therefore, astronauts should also be required to take vitamin
supplements as recommended by their doctors to retain regular levels of all vitamins and minerals. One of
the many important minerals is Calcium. As space flight duration increases, the rate at which astronauts
excrete urinary calcium does, as well. Another issue astronauts encounter is bone loss, contributing to a
lower bone density. Astronauts can retain more calcium through foods that are high in the mineral and
have the ability to retain all original nutrients for a long duration. The solution mentioned in this proposal is
a pill dispenser (see Product Objectives) which will assist astronauts in taking vitamins and will contribute
to the decrease in unstable levels of micronutrients.

Background and Rationale


A variety of factors influence the natural depletion of certain macro- and micronutrients; however,
some depletion can be prevented through certain forms of food preservation. Thermostabilization, freeze
drying, and irradiation are most commonly known as the three main types of food preservation.
Thermostabilization is the process of removing bacteria through heating and high pressure. Freeze drying
is the process of freezing foods then removing all air/moisture left with a vacuum through sublimation.
Irradiation is the process of ionizing the radiation within the food. Although the main forms of food
preservation are easily identifiable, many scientists have come to the conclusion that not enough research
has gone into experimenting with food preservation. With the recently new found possibility of human
civilization landing on Mars, more new and improved food will be needed to help sustain the astronauts on
the International Space Station.
After the following scientific journals were written, Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-
Microorganism Interactions (MicroHost Risk) and the Risk of Performance Decrement and Crew Illness due to
an Inadequate Food System (Food Risk), a review panel of 10 scientists across the country assessed the
research done and analyzed the gaps within the topic as well, “The challenges associated with
acceptability and variety of foods during long-term space travel needs continued investigation, and the
SRP [Standing Review Panel] has provided a series of recommendations for consideration. The
opportunity to incorporate space for frozen and refrigerated foods creates the potential for an expanded
array of products for the crew members. Demonstrating the stability of these foods should be given a high
priority by the Food research team” (Steinberg, 2015). Therefore this research will determine the best
means of food preservation for preserving food depending on the macro nutritional makeup of the food
item.

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Research Methodology:
Research Question
How can a researcher contribute in improving food preservation in microgravity condensed conditions for
astronauts?
Research Thesis
Through overviewing the multiple issues which affect the nutritional value of the food it is evident that not
all macronutrients can be easily preserved for long periods of time; however, in order to ensure that
astronauts still maintain healthy levels of macronutrients, a product must be created that ensures
nutritional stability.
Research Design Model
The chosen form is Qualitative research which will describe different forms of food preservation health
and propose a plan for improved nutrition. The information reviewed and collected, however, will be both
qualitative and quantitative. The variables of this design model include the nutritional health of an
astronaut, meaning what an astronaut eats and drinks to remain functional as well as describing how these
foods are preserved.

Data Collection
Meta Analysis was the most appropriate form of data collection because there is a variety of raw
data available on studies of food preservation in microgravity. Therefore the four following articles were
analyzed for comparison, Evidence Report: Risk of Performance Decrement and Crew Illness Due to an
Inadequate Food System, Food Fortification Stability Study, A review on mechanisms and commercial aspects
of food preservation and processing, and Initial assessment of the nutritional quality of the space food system
over three years of ambient storage. By comparing these articles side by side, the research aimed to assess
the effectiveness of each type of food preservation.
Each journal either includes all criteria or only fits one. All articles have information on freeze
drying, but one fails to mention the role of thermostabilization. Additionally, another fails to incorporate
the irradiation preservation process. A review on mechanisms and commercial aspects of food preservation
and processing has valuable information on the overall concept of food preservation, but lacks depth. The
data included is noteworthy; however, further analysis and experimentation could have been done in
order to explain the reasoning behind the information presented in the journal. Minimal information is
depicted on Thermostabilization and irradiation whereas in other journals, it is a vital asset.
Freeze drying, Thermostabilization, and Irradiation are all perceived as the most prominent ways
food preservation is used in microgravity. In the journal, Evidence Report: Risk of Performance Decrement
and Crew Illness Due to an Inadequate Food System, all forms of preservation are accounted for and
assessed with great detail. With regards to Thermostabilization, a study found that roughly 10% of the
chosen 65 foods are estimated to have a shelf life of five years or more. All other vitamins and minerals are
greatly affected by thermal heating and are therefore denatured during thermostabilization and overall,
losing nutritional value. However the study conducted in, Food Fortification Stability Study journal, found
that Vitamin E is resistant to thermal inactivation because 85% of its original composition remained after
one year in microgravity. This evidence can be backed up with the study mentioned previously, Evidence
Report: Risk of Performance Decrement and Crew Illness Due to an Inadequate Food System, because the six
foods that remained nutritious after five years, contained high amounts of Vitamin E.
Perhaps the reason that other vitamins do not have as high of a success rate in thermostabilization
could possibly be due to how it is performed. The study, Initial assessment of the nutritional quality of the
space food system over three years of ambient storage, found that using microwave-assisted thermal
stabilization (MATS) will improve vitamin stability and therefore increase nutritional capacity thus,
preserving food for longer. This is done by exposing food to short and slowed kinetic rates of chemical
degradation.
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Freeze-drying it is viewed as commonly used form of preservation in the following study, A review
on mechanisms and commercial aspects of food preservation and processing. However a study concluded in
the Evidence Report: Risk of Performance Decrement and Crew Illness Due to an Inadequate Food System
found that 26 out of 1802 products failed to meet the specifications between 2012 to 2015 and were
therefore were not approved for ISS flights. Although these numbers may seem insignificant to some they
are still alarming because astronauts already are limited with the amount of food available to them due to
microgravity.
Lastly, the Irradiation preservation process causes the following vitamins and minerals to lose
nutritional value, vitamins A, B6, B12, C and minerals, niacin, calcium, and phosphorus. This is evident
through comparing the following journals, Evidence Report: Risk of Performance Decrement and Crew Illness
Due to an Inadequate Food System and A review on mechanisms and commercial aspects of food preservation
and processing.
Overall all three forms of food preservation studied and compared for analysis, Freeze drying,
Thermostabilization, and Irradiation are important and are needed in order to keep food from losing
macronutrient and micronutrient value. By comparing those specifically chosen journals, it is evident that
some vitamins and minerals will preserve for longer under certain conditions more than others. Therefore
it is prominent that each individual vitamin that makes up a certain food is assessed to see what type of
preservation works best. If many vitamins are not seeing high success rates in thermostabilization (which
is evident in studies displayed above) perhaps scientists need to change the rate at which the food is
absorbing the thermal heating and use microwave-assisted thermal stabilization instead.

Product Objectives:
A 3D space pill dispenser was designed using the application software Inventor. The audience for this
product is astronauts, for they will greatly benefit from this device as it will make taking pills easier. This
dispenser can be 3D printer anywhere using any sort of 3D printer material. The pill dispenser has the
shape of an inhaler and has two separate holes at the end, one for the pill and the other for a water tube.
Taking pills with the pill dispenser are done as follow, insert the pill and place the sliding lid overtop, then
insert the water tube at the back of the dispenser and pull through as desires, then take the pill while
drinking water at the same time. This design was originally created to enter in the Mars Medical Challenge
organized by NASA and the Asme Foundation in 2017. The guidelines of this contest was to create a
medical product that can be 3D printed in space on board in ISS (International Space Station) and be used
by astronauts for a variety of medical things. The Pill dispenser earned placing through being accepted
onto the website for viewing and judging. This invention will be used to contribute to the nourishment of
micronutrients for astronauts in space. The Pill dispenser has been newly updated to make it more
convenient for astronaut use. The purpose of this product is to subsidize for all the macro nutritional value
lost in microgravity over long duration spaceflight as depicted through this research.

Logistical Considerations:
The resources required for this product include, a 3D printer and 3D printer plastic material. The cost to 3D
may be expensive but will not need to be done multiple times for simply two or three pill dispensers will
withhold a space mission. A timeline will be added that outlines the data collection, product development,
and audience distribution.

Approval:

__________________________ ___________________________ _____________________


Student Signature G/T Resource Teacher Signature Mentor/Advisor Signature
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References

Amit, S. K., Uddin, M. M., Rahman, R., Islam, S. R., & Khan, M. S. (2017). A review on mechanisms and
commercial aspects of food preservation and processing. Agriculture & Food Security, 6(1), 51.

Cooper, M., Perchonok, M., & Douglas, G. L. (2017). Initial assessment of the nutritional quality of the space
food system over three years of ambient storage. npj Microgravity, 3(1), 17.

Perchonok, M., Douglas, G., & Cooper, M. (2016). Evidence Report: Risk of Performance Decrement and
Crew Illness Due to an Inadequate Food System. NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.

Sirmons, T. A., Cooper, M. R., & Douglas, G. L. (2017). Food Fortification Stability Study.

Steinberg, S. (2015). 2015 Advanced Environmental Health/Advanced Food Technology


Standing Review Panel.