This Christmas, scientists were baking cookies for Santa in microgravity. Certainly, neither Santa nor astronaut will be able to enjoy these baked cookies. Making them was a part of a science experiment, produced to test a new oven on the orbital lab.
The goal of this experiment was to see if baking in a space environment is even possible. On earth, it is pretty straightforward turning cookie dough into a finished cookie. You just need to put a pan in the oven, while hot air within the oven lifts and fans circulate the heat throughout the tiny space. This makes the heat to be equally loft upon cookie, producing it to puff out. But in space, heating gets complicated. Hot air doesn’t “rise” as it does normally on Earth, and there’s no guarantee your cookie will stay on that pan. instead, it might just float away.
The Zero-G Oven is designed to fight these problems. “It doesn’t just work as your oven on the earth,” Mary Murphy, said during a press conference before the oven’s launch. “We might need to change the design of the oven”. To evenly heat the dough within, the oven is made in a shaped like a cylinder with heaters filling every side; that way, so that the cookie gets heated evenly from all over. And to make sure the cookie doesn’t float away within the oven; the dough must be packed in via a special tray that traps the ingredients inside a sealed pouch.
Luca Parmitano, an astronaut, he tried baking samples on 12th, 13th, and 17th December with some success. “The oven is very, very simple to use, and I think it worked as expected,” Parmitano said in a statement provided by NASA. “We were able to bake the samples, but it took some trials to conclude out how long they had to stay in the oven.”
The first three cookies came out pretty doughy, but the last two were nice and brown, with melted chocolate chips. “The samples are then kept in a freezer to be sent back to the Earth for analysis. We’ll see how well it worked!” he said.
As this was very experimental, resultant, researches didn’t want the astronauts to eat these improper bakes cookies. That’s why astronauts only get clicked with their treats. The samples will head back to Earth so that researchers on the ground can take a better look at the finished products. But eventually, the idea of having the astronauts bake cookies they can’t eat is to see if it’s possible to have such small comforts of home when people go on multi-year trips to deep-space destinations in the future.