Fast Company has a nice write-up about the HI-SEAS mission and why food matters in space exploration. Jean Hunter, principle investigator for our food study and Cornell professor, explains it well:
“When you eat the same thing over and over again, you get bored by it, [you get] full sooner, and end up eating less. For astronauts who might be somewhere far away from home where there’s not much variety in their lives, getting bored with the food can be really serious,” Hunter tells me. “In space, they’re going to get bored with a lot of things. Having the food be interesting will improve morale, but it will also make them eat more.”
Ultimately, engineers who plan missions to Mars will need to consider the trade-offs between culinary variety and payload weight, between crew productivity and morale and time and water spent cooking and cleaning. The HI-SEAS mission is the first long-term simulated Mars mission specifically designed to study the role of food in human space exploration.