30 January 2020
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) recently tested an oven they used to bake five chocolate chip cookies.
We now know the results of that experiment: the cookies took a lot longer to bake in space than on Earth.
The cookies that came out best required two hours of baking time inside the International Space Station. The baking time for cookies on Earth is generally only about 20 minutes.
The cookies returned to Earth earlier this month aboard a SpaceX-built spacecraft that splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. The cookies are the first food baked in space from raw food materials. They remain frozen in a laboratory in Houston, Texas.
The American company Nanoracks designed and built the cookie oven. Hilton DoubleTree hotels supplied the cookie dough.
The makers of the oven did expect some difference in the baking time in space, but they were surprised that that difference was so large.
"There's still a lot to look into to figure out really what's driving that difference, but definitely a cool result," said Mary Murphy. She is with the company Nanoracks, which is based in Texas.
Murphy said the baking results will continue to be examined in order to better understand why space baking took so much longer. In addition, researchers will study the effectiveness of the baking tray, which was designed to work in microgravity conditions.
The five chocolate chip cookies were frozen when they were sent to space. Each had to be baked separately in the oven.
Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano took charge of the baking experiment in December. He reported that the first cookie stayed in the oven for 25 minutes at 149 degrees Celsius. When it came out of the oven, it was seriously under-baked.
For the next two cookies, Parmitano more than doubled the baking time. Those cookies came out better, but were still under-baked.
The fourth cookie stayed in the oven for two hours, after which Parmitano was able to report success. "I can't tell you whether it's cooked all the way or not, but it certainly doesn't look like cookie dough anymore," he reported to controllers back on Earth.
For the fifth cookie, Parmitano turned the oven temperature up to 163 degrees Celsius and baked it for 130 minutes. This time, he reported the best baking results.
No one has tasted the space-traveling cookies just yet. Organizers of the experiment say additional testing will need be carried out to determine whether they are safe to eat.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English, with additional information from a press release. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.
Words in This Story
aboard – adv. on something
raw – adj. not cooked
dough – n. a mixture of flour and liquid used to make foods that are then baked
figure out – v. to decide something after thinking about it
definitely – adv. without any doubt
tray – n. a flat object used for holding or carrying things
certainly – adv. without a doubt