EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Personalised Dietary Plans And Health Effects On Astronauts In Extra-Terrestrial Habitats

Johanna Chappuis1,5, Charlotte Pouwels2,5, Michaela Musilova5,6,7, and Bernard Foing3,4,5
Johanna Chappuis et al.
  • 1Dietitian, Hyères, France (
  • 2Hague University of Applied Science, Delft, Netherlands (
  • 3Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 4ESA ESTEC, Nordwijk, Netherlands (
  • 5ILEWG EuroMoonMars programme & EMMIHS (EuroMoonMars-International Moonbase Alliance- HISEAS)
  • 6International Moonbase Alliance (IMA) & Hawai´i Space Exploration Analog and Simulations (HI-SEAS), United States (
  • 7Institute of Robotics and Cybernetics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology STU in Bratislava, Slo-vakia, Slovak Organisation for Space Activities (SOSA), Bratislava, Slovakia

Astronaut nutrition is an important aspect to consider for extra-terrestrial missions. It encompasses microbiological risks for humans, individual nutritional needs and the social well-being of astronauts. During a two-week analogue astronaut mission to the Moon, research focusing on the dietary needs and health of each crew member was performed. A crew of six analog astronauts, from the EuroMoonMars IMA HI-SEAS II (EMMIHS-II) mission followed a pre-prepared personal menu based on their intolerances and daily activities. 

The first things that needed to be considered was the sanitary aspect of the missions, as it severely limits food choices. Fresh foods that are consumed on Earth are microbiologically fragile and occupy an important conservation space air. In order to ensure food safety and optimize storage space, the only food taken on the EMMIHS-II mission was freezedried.

Prior to the mission, the food rations and distribution amongst crewmembers was determined according to the average nutritional and calorific needs of the group. To maintain a basal metabolism, a balanced nutrition is required. A healthy and sufficient food intake is of high importance, particularly due to the regular physical activity each crewmember performs during Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs) that the crew performed daily.

It was not possible to determine the actual amount of energy consumed on a daily basis during this mission for logistical reasons. It was also not possible to weigh out the food for each individual crewmember, as it would have taken up too much of the mission time. In the future, portions could be determined in terms of “cup sizes” per person, as this would be the most realistic measure for the preparation of freeze-dried food. 

Furthermore, various digestive problems have been identified throughout this mission. Possible explanations for these issues could be a too abrupt change of eating habits including the lack of consumption of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and the lack of fiber-rich cereals. In order to avoid this on future missions, the next strategy could be to first estimate the dietary intake of vegetable fibre for each individual before the mission start, in order to individually adapt the fruit and vegetable ration recommendations.

A diverse distribution of culinary recipes is also recommended for the preparation of future missions, in order to improve the taste of the meals for the crew. Taste is an important part of the pleasure of eating and as a result, it heavily influences the intake of food. This inevitably has an effect on the physical and mental well-being of the crew.

Finally, the social and psychological aspect of food plays an important role in the mental well-being of the astronauts. In this context, it was found that the food preparation and meal-sharing moments enabled the team to strengthen their social ties, which was in favour of their fulfilment. However, on the other hand, pleasure from eating and each crewmembers’ appetite did often not correspond to this. Hence, it was found that the freezedried food did not contribute to the emotional wellbeing of the astronauts.

How to cite: Chappuis, J., Pouwels, C., Musilova, M., and Foing, B.: Personalised Dietary Plans And Health Effects On Astronauts In Extra-Terrestrial Habitats, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20628,, 2020