Yonatan Winetraub is an Israeli scientist with an interesting idea: He wants to see if it will be possible to one day make hummus in outer space.
“When I heard NASA will be sending astronauts to the moon, the Jewish mother in me had to ask, ‘What are they going to eat?’” the 34-year old Stanford biophysics PhD said in an interview with the Jewish News of Northern California.
Winetraub designed a project that will test the outer space potential of chickpea plants on the International Space Station in a tiny device he termed a “miniaturized greenhouse.” Special LEDs will be used to control plant growth.
“We don’t know if chickpeas can grow in space. This is something that has actually never been done before,” he said.
Other plants have been grown in space but never with a device to control their growth.
He explained that the technique, once perfected, will be important to growing crops on a space station, the moon, or another planet. The need for plants to sprout or fruit on command will be necessary as these will be essential food sources.
He picked chickpeas because of their high nutrient content and because they grow fast.
And also – most importantly – because you can make hummus form them.
“It’s, like — OK, let’s grow hummus! Let’s get it up there,” he said.