A Cornell University group experimented with cooking in weightlessness by taking “a specially constructed space galley” onto a plane doing parabolic flights:
- In low gravity, scientists search for a way to sauté – Cornell Chronicle
- Extraterrestrial Cooking: Splatter Control – Leonard David
From the Cornell Chronicle:
In a series of four flights launched from Houston, the team tossed tofu and shredded potatoes into pans of sizzling oil and filmed the resulting oil splatters as the plane climbed and dove in parabolic paths. Each cycle created a brief period of partial weightlessness, simulating the conditions astronauts would face during extended stays on the moon or Mars, which have one-sixth and one-third the gravity of Earth, respectively.
The experimenters positioned strips of paper inside the galley fume hood and dyed the oil bright red to help them see and collect splatter patterns. Under reduced gravity conditions, the food settled more slowly into the pan, and more oil appeared to fall outside of it. The oil droplets also traveled a greater distance from the pan than under Earth conditions – probably because it took longer for gravity to pull them down, Arquiza said.
Arquiza ended up with a collection of 200 red-speckled strips that might resemble evidence from a crime scene investigation, but could contribute greatly to our understanding of the basic science of cooking in space. He is now analyzing them to measure the particles’ size distribution and distance traveled. Results will be used to create computer models that could be extrapolated to inform the design of future terrestrial and extraterrestrial cooking technology.