Probiotic Bulgarian yogurt ‘feasible’ to achieve good health and well-being on Mars missions

Testing performed at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the Utah desert revealed that Bulgarian yogurt could be easily prepared by analog astronauts participating in a two-week “mission” in a closed, Mars-like environment.

The yogurt, which is prepared using Lactobacillus delbrueckii​ subsp bulgaricus​ and Streptococcus thermophilus, ​was also shown to have a positive effect on the astronauts’ overall well-being and gut health, according to the findings published in the Journal of Ethnic Foods​.

“Highlighting [Bulgarian yogurt’s] ease of preparation in space conditions is a notable achievement, as providing varied and fresh food for astronauts has been a persistent challenge,” wrote scientists from the MDRS, Curtin University (Australia), Ritsumeikan University (Japan) and the Bulgarian Academy of Science. “Its adaptability as a space food option, coupled with its positive impact on astronauts’ overall health and well-being, emphasizes the need for further exploration and integration of this ancient dietary practice into modern space nutrition strategies.

“Based on these findings, we strongly recommend that homemade yogurt be included as a standard menu item for space crews. The benefits of yogurt consumption during space missions go beyond nutrition; it also contributes to crew morale and well-being, making it a valuable addition to future interplanetary expeditions.”

The challenges of extended space travel

Moving humanity beyond our terrestrial home has captured the imagination of scientists and science-fiction writers for decades. NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has stated that crewed missions to the Red Planet should be within reach by the 2030s​.