The Menu for Mars Kitchen at The Boiler

The Menu for Mars Kitchen
Douglas PAULSON and Heidi NEILSON 

29 May – 20 June, 2015
Opening Reception:
Friday, 29 May. 7-9pm

Press Release

The Menu for Mars Kitchen

Join the Menu for Mars Supper Club as we pioneer a menu for the Red Planet.

The Menu for Mars Supper Club will construct an analog Mars kitchen to investigate the future of food on Mars. From May 29 – June 20, the Menu for Mars Kitchen and surrounding habitat will be open to the public, and visitors are invited, alongside special guests, to cook using Mars-feasible ingredients. Dishes will be documented, sampled, evaluated, and vacuum-packed. At the exhibition’s end, the prototype dishes and a summary of findings will be sent to NASA to augment their preparations for colonizing Mars.

The Kitchen will also test off-Earth cultivation of edible plants and mushrooms, food preservation, and related topics through a series of workshop and events, a calendar of which will be updated regularly here (below) and at

Over the last year, Menu for Mars Supper Club met monthly with guest experts over dinner to consider how the circumstances on Mars would affect colonists’ food—and their physical, cultural, and psychological needs. The Menu for Mars Kitchen culminates these discussions and related research. Come and join in the experiment in imagining the future!

Heidi Neilson and Douglas Paulson are the exhibition and Menu for Mars initiative organizers.

Office of Plans and Drawings
An ongoing display of working sketches and plans from the project and fantastic technical drawings

Inflatable garden & greenhouse
Inflated, rapidly deployable garden that grows hearty edible weeds fit for making the long journey to Mars and adapting to the planet’s harsh conditions.

Untag: Prototype for Nutritional Privacy in Barcode-Ready Vegetation, Agar and LEDs
An experiment using spectrum-hacked agriculture to counter foodstuffs surveillance on Mars.

Living Food for the Dead Planet
Fungi, ferments, and other live cultures can help Mars colonists nourish themselves while reducing energy needed to produce and prepare these living foods.

Big Sky Out There
Viewers can gaze out onto the bleak Martian terrain through five portholes.

Dr. Sian PROCTOR with the HI-SEAS crew
Meals for Mars Episodes 1-22
Meals for Mars is a series of cooking videos made by the participants during NASA’s HI-SEAS Mars analog mission, on view in the Menu for Mars Kitchen control room.

Simmering Rocks
Simmering Rocks is a soundtrack for the Martian kitchen. Researchers probe jars of minerals to sonically capture their expelled gasses creating a symphony that evokes both the effervescent magic of carbonation and the nostalgic music of the earth’s ionosphere.

Mars Kitchen Habitat Architecture
Pressurized “Kitchen” habitat will house the cooking quarters and the agricultural experiments of the Menu For Mars contributors.

Tattfoo TAN
NEMRE – New Earth Meal Ready to Eat
The Menu for Mars Kitchen pantry will feature NEMREs – dehydrated food packs made from rescued food waste that is shelves stable in preparation for nature disaster due to climate change.

Programs and scheduled cookery

29 May: 7-9pm
Opening Reception

30 May:  4pm
Sian Proctor, Mars on Earth: Living in a Mars Simulation

Did you know that there are people on Earth living in Mars simulations? For the past few years NASA has funded Mars simulations on the big island of Hawaii. The project is called Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS). The crew consists of six individuals from around the world and simulations can last from four months to one year. Dr. Sian Proctor was a crew member for HI-SEAS Mission 1 which focused on food strategies for long duration space flight.

SIAN PROCTOR BIO: [Sian Proctor is a geology professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout her adult life she has pushed herself to take on new challenges and to learn  new things. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science, M.S. in Geology, and a Ph.D. in Science Education. Both her masters and doctorate research involved the use of technology to understand how individuals learn. She teaches both hybrid and online geology classes, and has traveled and taught around the world. She was a finalist for the 2009 NASA Astronaut Program, was on the Discovery Channel reality TV show called The Colony, was the Education Outreach Officer on the 4-month NASA funded Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation 2013 Mission, and this past year was a 2014 PolarTREC teacher doing climate change research in Barrow, Alaska. Sian’s amazing career has been a direct result of her love of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  She also enjoys traveling, playing sports, photography, and cooking.]

31 May: 4pm
Planetary Society Meetup

Join The New York Chapter of the Planetary Society’s  Meetup to prototype recipes for Mars. The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman to inspire and involve the world’s public in space exploration through advocacy, projects, and education. But can they cook?

DATE to be determined (June 4-7)
Will Owen

The atmosphere on Mars is made of different gases than Earth’s atmosphere. The quality of sound, as it travels through the air, will be different due to the variant density of molecules. Will Owen will perform and DJ along with percussionist Matthias Borello live over Skype using filters and Equalizers to mimic how audio will sound on Mars.

5 June:  4-6pm
Gil Lopez
Workshop – Yogurt making and mushroom tour

A workshop experimenting with making yogurt from powdered milk, followed by a tour of the Kitchen’s fungus facilities.

6 June:  3-4pm
Tattfoo Tan
Workshop Drying food and pemmican variation

A workshop on making a Mars-version of Pemmican – a concentrated mixture of fat and protein invented by the native peoples of North America and widely adopted as a high-energy food by Europeans involved in the fur trade and later by Arctic and Antarctic explorers, such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

7 June:  4pm
Anna Dabney, David Grainger & Guest
Lahpet Thote / Pickled Tea Leaf Salad Workshop

Laphet is a pickled or fermented tea leaf native to Burma. Customarily eaten as a salad (“thote”) or frequently mixed with rice, Laphet serves important medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Despite recent softening of U.S. trade policy, members of the Burmese community in the US continue to rely on friends and family to shuttle Laphet and other traditional ingredients from Burma. Ingredients vary regionally and often include: Pickled tea leaf, peanut oil, garlic, channa dal, dried butter beans, peanuts, sesame seeds, dried shrimp, green chilis, fish sauce, lime juice (or dried equivalent) tomato, cabbage, fried beetle larva.

13 June:  3pm
Heather Kapplow & Thalia Zedek
Jiminy Mac & Cheese

Taste test the future of and old favorite – this entrée is a cricket-enhanced, Mars-pantry-friendly take on Mac & Cheese.

13 June:  5pm
Heather Kapplow & Thalia Zedek
Miracle Fruit Tasting, featuring the Astronaut Reviver cocktail

“Miracle fruit” temporarily alters a person’s flavor perception, which might be a nice change for Mars colonists. Participants will sample various Menu for Mars Kitchen pantry items before and after miracle fruit application, and note how the results could be applied to Mars cuisine. The Astronaut Reviver cocktail is a pervasive-hydrogen-peroxide-taste-busting elixir adapted from a Corpse Reviver for Mars-pantry suitability.

14 June:  4pm
Lindsay Iserman
Artificial Sunshine: Citric Acid in Mars cooking

Discussion of the uses of citric acid in flavoring and preservation of food. Demo and tasting of a Citric acid based Mars cocktail.

20 June:  4pm
Cook-off conclusion, and NASA mailing

Participants will be invited to polish off all the ingredients in the pantry and feast.  Awards will be given to the most remarkable dishes.  All dishes from the duration of the kitchen will be packed and prepared to be shipped to NASA.

The Menu for Mars Supper Club is a Flux Factory educational initiative.

Conditions on Mars

1. COLD. On average, the temperature on Mars is about ?80 degrees F (?60 degrees C). In winter near the poles temperatures can get down to ?195 degrees F (?125 degrees C). A summer day on Mars may get up to 70 degrees F (20 degrees C) near the equator, but at night the temperature can plummet to about ?100 degrees F (?73 C).

2. EXTREMELY LOW ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE On Mars, your blood will boil if you go outside without a pressurized spacesuit. Habitable structures on Mars would need to be pressurized like spacecraft.

3. TOXIC AIR, E.G. CARBON DIOXIDE. Martian air is completely toxic to both plants and animals.

4. LESS SUNLIGHT BUT MORE UV RADITION. Less sunlight (further from the sun) but due to the relative lack of a magnetosphere and the thin atmosphere, Mars has extreme amounts of ultraviolet radiation.

6. GRAVITY. 38% of Earth’s gravity. It is not known if Martian gravity would have similar health effects such as muscle loss and bone demineralization found in the microgravity of near-earth orbit, nor is much known what effects 38% gravity would have on growing food.

7. SEASONS. Mars has an axial tilt of 25.19Åã, similar to Earth’s 23.44Åã. As a result, Mars has season much like Earth, though they last nearly twice as long because the Martian year is about 1.88 Earth years.

8. DISTANCE. It takes 128-333 days to get to Mars from Earth, communication transmissions are delayed 3-22 minutes.

9. DUST. Toxic, tiny, clings to everything electrostatically, likely to be an issue with air filters, water purifiers, etc. Mars also has enormous dust storms.

 And so, Dining on Mars

1. Living spaces entirely within a sealed, spaceship-like environment, including any greenhouses.

2. Cooking methods altered. Cooking with a pressure cooker, and/or with induction cooker likely. (What happens with flames or barbecue in 38% gravity?)

3. Food from earth is highly preserved, packaged for 5 year shelf life. Shipments might only arrive once every few months. Missions to Mars have taken 128-333 days in transit.

4. Fresh food is limited. Greenhouse growing an untested challenge, many unknowns in terms of growing season, light, gravitational effect. Can some crops not often traditionally eaten on Earth grow well on Mars, such as algae, fungus, insects? What about preserving grown food?

5. Persistent dust. Would it have a flavor or texture effect?

6. Plating. ?