Astrobiologist reveals what it's like cooking meals in the coldest place on Earth
With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing now less than 12 months away and the imminent threat of climate change leaving our planet on the precipice of uninhabitality, I wouldn't blame you if your thoughts started to wander to the idea of space travel to a planet far away.
Although since Neil Armstrong celebrated "one giant leap for mankind" we've streamlined the process significantly since then, one place in which space travel is sorely lacking is the most important aspect - food. With most meals being of the instant variety and that one episode of the Simpsons suggesting that potato chips are a no-no, there's still a lot of research yet to be done in the culinary department.
One of the biggest problems when it comes to cooking in space is the howling void all around you - how can you possibly make scrambled eggs in the freezing vacuum of space? Luckily, there's one place on Earth that's colder than the halls of the International Space Station - Antarctica.
Astrobiologist Cyprien Verseux has to understand these freezing temperature as part of his job, and cooking in those freezing conditions in particular has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Sharing pictures from his blog and social media feeds, French scientist Verseux gives us a tiny window into what it's like to cook in hostile, sub-zero temperatures.
"There is almost no living being apart from the few humans and microbes that accompany them everywhere," explains Verseux of his Concordia base, adding that although biologists don't often make the trip, it's a perfect place for science practices such as "astronomy, human physiology, glaciology and atmospheric sciences".
"The cold is too intense, can pass -80 °C during the winter. Contrary to my usual practice, I will not study any form of life: I am a glaciologist and work on different research projects that will help, for example, to better understand the climate in the past and better assess its likely future. The environment is hostile and our survival depends on technology."
So, how does that whole cooking thing go? Long story short: not well. If you didn't know any better, you'd think they were some kind of bizarre modern art exhibit: spaghetti suspended in mid air, egg white frozen in its shell before it even hits the pan, Nutella not even able to provide a simple snack.
"We run out of fresh food early in the winter (as we have no resupply from early February to early November), so we eat mostly frozen food," explained Verseux, so this is mostly just for show. That being said, I'm sure that they don't have to worry about storing things in a freezer - they can just go outside.
Well, folks, there you have it. While summer fades away and we creep slowly toward the winter months, let's take a look at these bizarre cooking photos and be glad we don't live in Antarctica.