Many questions surround the possibility of a manned mission to Mars, but perhaps the most fundamental comes down to something everyone faces daily: what to eat? Well, how about Cajun jambalaya, Moroccan beef tangine, no-crust quiche muffins, Crater Crunch bars, and fried noodles? Those were just a few of the dishes researchers noshed during a four-month Mars-mission simulation study.
The NASA-funded study into potential food options for a mission to Mars is wrapping up Tuesday. During four months in a barren lava field on the northern slope of Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano, six researchers dined on a variety of dehydrated and freeze-dried produce and meats, including jambalaya made with Spam.
The goal of the study, led by Cornell University and the University of Hawaii, was to expand current outer-space dining options so astronauts on a Mars mission could avoid malnourishment and food boredom.
As part of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), the researchers asked the public to submit recipe ideas, with one catch: all ingredients had to be non-perishable. This poses a culinary and health challenge, as team commander Angelo Vermeulen explained on the study's Web site, because most non-perishable foods are highly processed and low in fiber.
Recipes came in from around the world, and the crew posted photos of their favorites throughout the study.
The six-member crew, selected through an open application process in late 2012, included Vermeulen, along with materials scientist Yajaira Sierra-Sastre; science and technology journalist Kate Greene; research space scientist Oleg Abramov; astrophysicist and programmer Simon Engler; and Sian Proctor, a geology professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix.
Tuesday will be the group's first day outside of the dome without wearing a spacesuit. They've requested a day on the beach before heading back to the real world. See our gallery below for a taste of what they ate these past months.
This story originally appeared on CBSNews.com.