Astronauts will be able to eat French fries in space thanks to the resourceful Greeks!

astronauts french fries

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) space fries are featured in the European Space Agency's review.

Astronauts used to say that on their travels, they craved… French fries. There are obviously many challenges in having French fries in space, but it appears that AUTH has found a solution.

A "luscious" and "golden" recognition was reserved for the university and Greece by the European Space Agency (ESA) in its 2023 review on social media, which included a video of frying potatoes in space from the experiments of the Group of Dynamics of Multiphase Systems, Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Technology, Department of Chemistry of the University.

"If you fried chips on Jupiter, they would probably taste better than they do here on Earth!" begins the video posted by ESA. The video then explains the experiment and its goals, showing snapshots of the Greek research team implementing it in the context of parabolic flights.

"The Deep Fryer"

"We succeeded and fried real potatoes in zero gravity conditions and saw what happens," said the chairman of the Chemistry Department of AUTH, director of the Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Technology and the scientific group Dynamics of Multiphase Systems, Thodoris Karapantsios, to AMNA, who is head of flagship experiments of the European Space Agency, having participated with his research team in more than 20 technology development projects for space applications and in 11 experimental parabolic flight campaigns.

Now, the Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Technology of AUTH is also designing the space fryer, the device that will complement the... astronauts' household equipment. Scientists are already working to solve various technological problems arising from frying in zero gravity, one of the most important of which is the odours released, even in a space that is not ventilated.

Astronauts used to say that on their travels, they craved… french fries

The idea for space fries was not born at AUTH. The proposal to Mr. Carapantsio and his team - which has been experimenting with boiling in zero gravity for many years - was made by NASA and ESA officials during a forum at the headquarters of the US Space Agency.

The AUTH team had given the impetus by presenting experiments, according to which the mechanism of the creation and movement of steam bubbles during boiling was similar to that during frying.

Although the AUTH team's first activities involved the use of cooking in porous ceramic materials as a means to keep the temperature of the walls of spacecraft low during their return to the Earth's atmosphere or in the event of a fire, there was a lively interest in frying potatoes in Space, as there were statements from astronauts saying that what they miss on trips away from Earth is... French fries.

Experiments in 25 seconds

The experimental device - the fryer of the AUTH, was transferred from the university's laboratory to the air and to the parabolic flights, where the requirements for coordination and organisation were particularly high.

"Everything had to be organised to the second," said Mr Karapantsios, describing the process of the parabolic flights, where members of the scientific team had to complete parts of the experiment within 25 seconds of weightlessness, which is how long each one lasted. A parabolic dive' of the aircraft occurs when the aircraft temporarily shuts down the engines and drops from about 10 km altitude to 8 km.

A total of 186 parabolic dives of 25 seconds each were carried out over six days in two parabolic flight campaigns, during which thousands of bubbles were released and recorded by high-speed cameras during the "frying".

"And if for most people the 25 seconds of the parabolic dive, where the aircraft suddenly loses two kilometres of height, is a minimum amount of time, for us who experiment, it seems like... a century," added Mr Karapantsios.

READ MORE: Deciphering Ancient Insights: AI Unravels Greek Term from Herculaneum Scrolls.

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