Space … the Final Frontier …

The region pictured in this image is within our Milky Way galaxy and displays two areas of star formation hidden behind a haze of dust when viewed in visible light. The Spitzer Space Telescope’s ability to peer deeper into dust clouds shows us stellar birthplaces like these, which are officially known only by their catalog numbers, IRAS 19340+2016 and IRAS19343+2026.

Video Credit: NASA

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot!

tea,earlgrey,hotNASA and a Texas company are exploring the possibility of using a “3D printer” on deep space missions in a way where the “D” would stand for dining.

A Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract as been awarded to Systems and Materials Research Consultancy of Austin to study the feasibility of using additive manufacturing (aka  3D printing) for making food in space. The company will conduct a study for the development of a 3D printed food system for long duration space missions. Phase I SBIRs are very early stage concepts that may or may not mature into real world, useful systems. Food printing technology experiments conducted under the SBIR may result in a Phase II study, but it will be several years before a system could be tested on an actual space flight. And many more before anything like a StarTrek replicator is serving dinner.

UPDATE—Of course, another possibility is the Nutri-Matic machine from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

It is a government program after all.