First 'baked in space' cookies: 2 hours at 325º in zero-g oven

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This is really counter intuitive and I am surprised by the result. Which raises the question as to what impact gravity has on the baking process? could it be that in 1 gee the oils and liquids that are not evaporated are drawn down to the base or at least the center of the cookie? this causing the browning?
Assuming a Zero Gee oven does not have a convection fan, could the evaporated liquids remain at or near the surface of the cookie preventing traditional browning?
Also I would expect that the heat, regardless of gravity would cook the ingredients in the expected amount of time and that something like two hours would overcook the dough.

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Important work! I’m surprised it’s taken this long…
And I’m surprised about the cook time! Long…


I’m guessing no convection leading to a layer of cooler gasses protecting the baked goods from the heat. The lesson might be that in space you need a forced air convection oven.


Next up, space brownies. Yummy.


I wonder if having it rotate would help with heat transfer.

I am inclined to agree but I my hypothesis is that it is not necessarily a case of cooler but rather the browning is also a function of the moisture surrounding the surface of the cookie. A lot like how you dry meat to brown it (Source Julia Child).
I propose a series of experiments to either prove or disprove this theory

EDIT: I found this link which describes the Oven’s design Spaaaace Oven


Dunno. Seems like the kind of thing the people on the ISS could experiment with.

I wonder if baking is more difficult on the station because you have to explicitly account for the extra heat load in the cooling budget? Although cooking one cookie sized area is probably not that much extra heat.

The cookies baked for less than 2 hours were not only not brown, but also outright undercooked. So it wasn’t just an issue of not enough Milliard reactions taking place, but not enough heat being delivered to the dough.


From the article:

So yeah, no conventional convection can happen, but I don’t see why a simple fan can’t work in freefall. They were cooking entirely with radiant heat, which explains why it took so dang long for the cookies to bake.


Yeah you got to that before I was able to. A fan. Which is what I have in my oven at home for he Convection feature but in that context is is really not convection in the scientific sense of the word.
I suggest a symposium at the institute


Gawd. I am so tired of human-microgravity experiments!

Nothing says “space!” like microgravity, so the politicians are going to keep funding this stuff as long as the pork keeps flowing.

But if and when astronauts are sent someplace real and distant -like Mars - they are not going to want to land at their target with the kind of brittle bones and muscle atrophy that we’ve seen so far.

They will be spun, or there’ll be constant acceleration. And none of this human interest stuff will matter.

One of the things I like about the Expanse novels is all the little details about things like how cuisine is different in a low-g or zero-g environment. At one point, a character who had no previous experience with space travel is having a discussion with another character in the galley of a ship traveling under a 1-g burn to study a distant location in the solar system. He advises her to enjoy the biscuits while she can, because once they get there even the best cook can’t make decent baked goods “on the float.”


What about processes that work better in microgravity? Certainly those will be worth pursuing as we expand our human activities in space.

For example, 3D printing could work better in microgravity with no need to worry about the effects of gravity and the lack of convection allowing your piece to cool more slowly and evenly.


Need to bake cookies in space with lasers… :nerd_face: only mostly joking.


There are plenty of microgravity experiments with some merit. They could be done with robots, but sure, we’ve already got the guys in orbit, why not let them do it. But cookies? C’mon! Thats totally just pandering to the taxpayer back home.

I am so grateful to The Expanse for not getting carried away with the rubber science. Wounds healing poorly in zero-G may have been a stretch, but it was a sensible one.

awe but come on, this is the first step to sending grannies to space., and at least it’s hopefully research that can’t be weaponized …I don’t know actually… Can you weaponize cookies in space?


Waaaaait a minute. They managed to bake a cookie in space and didn’t bother seeing if it was tasty? MADNESS, I say! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

On a side note, I’d love to hear why they can’t do convection ovens in zero G- the oven’s manufacturer was mum on the reason: “not possible or difficult in zero gravity”


Maybe the oven is faulty. When my cookies are undercooked, that’s the first thing I check.


The reason is paranoia over crumbs escaping from the oven. They food is wrapped up in a plastic bag with just a tiny filtered vent hole to let steam escape. It was designed to be safe first and foremost.