We’ve all seen the iconic image of earth from space. The 'Blue Marble' photograph, taken in 1972 made many humans around the world realize with clarity just how fragile our little planet really is. This image of Earth taken decades later shows one of our planet's most brilliant phenomena in an entirely new light.
The photo from ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst shows what a sunset on Earth looks like from high above in space. A sunset from space looks like a like line of billy clouds soaked in red and orange sunlight behind the dark shape of night.
Astronaut with eye for details
The photo was just posted to Twitter but taken last year when Gerst set a new ESA astronaut record for spending 362 days in space. He returned on December 20th 2018. He has a series of brilliant images from his time in space on his Twitter. Gert’s Twitter account is not the only way the astronaut has made his mark on earth. The pioneering space explorer also has his favorite food served aboard Lufthansa flights.
Space food for premium customers
Last summer, the German-owned airline, announced it would be offering its business class passengers space food. Europe’s largest airline began to serve some of its passengers food originally developed for Alexander Gerst while on his ESA mission.
“Passengers will have the chance to enjoy one of the menus that Alexander Gerst and his crew will also be receiving on board [the station] as special highlights, chicken ragout with mushrooms," Lufthansa announced in a press release at the time.
Bonus meal beats homesickness
First class passengers were invited to indulge in a replica of Gerst’s on board ‘bonus meal'. Bonus meals are given to astronauts to help them overcome homesickness and as a special reward. The dishes are specially designed to create feelings of nostalgia and warmth.
Gerst’s bonus meal is created from traditional recipes from his home region of Swabia in southwestern Germany. The meal may include famous delicacies such as cheese spaetzle with bacon and chicken ragout with mushrooms. Guests won’t eat exactly what Gerst does though.
Health critical to performance
The astronaut would have enjoyed a low-sodium version of his favorite food that has been canned and sent to space. Meanwhile, passengers on Lufthansa flights will tuck into versions of the dish created by the company's catering department which we can assume are slightly tastier than the perfectly calibrated space meals. Lufthansa urged its customers to forget any ideas about bland tasteless space food.
"Anyone who dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a child probably didn't give much thought to the food," the company wrote. "And the food on the first outer space missions wasn't really anything worth dreaming about: it's gone down in history as 'tubes and cubes.'" Its menu description goes on to say that the dishes served onboard are ‘worlds apart’ from old-fashioned space food.
Lufthansa isn’t wrong when they claim space food has improved a lot since the first manned missions. These days ISS astronauts are even enjoying pizza. Astronaut Randy Bresnik told Food and Wine magazine: “The best food we had was a treat we got sent up as a care package, which was a pizza making kit with the crust and sauce," he said. "Because the texture and the taste was so different than the regular [freeze-dried] food we had, it was the best pizza I ever had."
Creating food for astronauts is a combination of looking at nutrition, shelf life and taste that helps them perform their critical tasks in space as well as a snapping a few unforgettable photos too.