Bishops Nympton Space Exploration Club

Taste in Space

In this activity, our children investigated the variables that affect their own sense of taste. We discussed how for astronauts, all their food and drink needs to be carried to the International Space Station (ISS) and how eating is an important part of crew morale and the one communal time when they share both a meal and
talk with each other. The children enjoyed learning that gravity acts on the fluid in our bodies and pulls it into our legs.

We discussed how in space, this fluid is distributed equally in the body. This change can be seen in the first few days of arriving in space when astronauts have a puffy face as fluid blocks the nasal passages. The puffy face feels like a heavy cold and this can cause taste to be affected in the short term by reducing their ability to smell. After a few days the fluid shift evens out as the human body adapts. In the long term, it could also be that in the confines of such a small space like the space station, the food competes with other odours in the station (e.g. body odours, machinery) that could also ‘dull’ the sense of taste. The sense of smell is very important to tasting food

When food seems to lose its flavour, astronauts usually ask for condiments, such as hot sauces, to give food some intensity of taste. A variety of condiments are available for the crewmembers to add  to their food such as honey, and sauces like soy sauce and BBQ sauce.

We conducted a series of taste experiments, to appreciate the different senses, which influence taste by dropping various liquids onto our tounges at the front then back. We discussed how the taste buds are located on different parts of the tounge and enjoyed looking at our tounges through a magnifying glass.

'I love how gravity affects how foods taste,' said Niamh.

'I like how we use all our sense to eat, especially how food looks and smells,' said Paige.