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  1. #1
    Administrator DIEHARD's Avatar
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    Default Who wants to be a Chinese astronaut?

    A diet of worms: Chinese volunteers spend 105 days eating creepy crawlies in space experiment
    Successful experiment in a Chinese testing facility showed volunteers could subsist on protein-rich worms for 105 days

    Mealworms are a good source of protein, although not everyone's idea of a delicious meal. Photo: Reuters
    It was famously dubbed the final frontier – and now space travel is pushing the boundaries once more.

    A three-month experiment has proved for the first time the feasibility of eating worms in space.

    Volunteers spent 105 days in an enclosed testing facility with mealworms as the main source of protein and showed little physical or mental discomfort according to a scientist involved in the research.

    The idea of using worms to sustain astronauts met resistance in the West after Chinese scientists first proposed in 2009 that insects, such as silkworms and mealworms, could be cultivated and used as a key source of protein on long space missions.

    Critics argued that though the worms were high in protein, they would look unappetising and lower morale among astronauts.

    Now the results of the research will be considered by the Chinese space authorities in the design and construction of Chinese manned outposts in space, the Moon or Mars.
    China plans an ambitious programme of space exploration. Here the Chang'e-3 rocket carrying the Jade Rabbit rover blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan last December. Photo: AFP

    Tests were carried out at the Moon Palace One, a closed, man-made biosphere at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which is China’s largest and most sophisticated facility developing self-sustaining life support systems in space.

    The 160 square-metre space has three chambers, one for living quarters and the other two for growing plants.

    The facility uses sophisticated technology, such as bio-chemistry and fuel cells, to maintain self-sufficiency in an enclosed environment.

    Dr Hu Dawei, a researcher involved in the project, said the volunteers, one man and two women, fed the mealworms with plant leaves or stalks.

    The mealworms, larvae of a beetle known as Tenebrio, were composed of more than 76 per cent protein and could grow to the size of a finger in about a month.

    A volunteer would need to eat “dozens” of mealworms to meet their daily nutritional needs, Hu said.

    “It did take them some time to adapt to the diet. None of them had ever tried an insect as food before,” he said.

    “But the process was not difficult to manage. They all seemed healthy and happy throughout the experiment.”

    Hu said the volunteers had applied various seasonings, such as Chinese bean sauce, to the worms and numerous receipts had been developed.

    However, 45 per cent of the volunteers’ food still relied on external sources, according to Hu.

    The team is now planning to add another plant chamber to the facility so a total of four volunteers could be supported 100 per cent by vegetables and worms grown inside the facility.

    Though relatively new to space exploration, China has in recent years accomplished some critical space missions such as setting up a space laboratory and landing a robotic rover on the Moon. The country will build a space station by 2020 with ambitious proposals for permanent lunar or Martian outposts in the making.

    The worm diet for space travellers was a “Chinese invention”, Hu said.

    “The United Nations have recommended mealworms for starving people in poor areas such as Africa, so we thought why can’t they be used by astronauts in space,” he said.

    Some countries, such as Japan, had used large animals for milk or meat, but the experiments had drawn protests from animal rights activists.

    “Some astronauts on long space expeditions might develop emotional bonds with the animal and it would be painful and messy to slaughter a sheep in space,” Hu said.

    “Worms may look disgusting at first glance, but they are actually the cleanest and healthiest food source.”

    Liu Lei, a restaurant manager in Chaoyang, Beijing, and a space enthusiast who has been closely following the development of space projects in China, said he was disappointed by the use of worms in space travel.

    “I was expecting something more lavish for a space dinner, such as Peking Duck with red wine. Worm on a menu might put off some people who dreamed to be an astronaut,” he said.

    “Maybe the scientists can ask some chefs to come up with some methods, such as grinding, that can give the worms a great taste without such a revolting appearance.”

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    Originally Posted by Moejoe
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  2. #2
    Administrator DIEHARD's Avatar
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    Default

    Reminds me of....





    P.S I'm a Trekkie!

    Originally Posted by Moejoe
    REMEMBER!!!! SLIP - SLOP - SLAP in the sun. Skin Cancer is a growing problem. It could happen to anyone!!

    Member: TITANS, DIEHARDS, LONDON BRONCOS, WEST COAST PIRATES, HKRL
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  3. #3
    Kangaroo Titanic's Avatar
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    Default

    As any person who has lived in China will know, that diet could only have been dreamed up in Guangdong Province (the area between Hong Kong and Guangzhou) where, I kid you not, even by Chinese standards they are ridiculed for their "we eat anything and everything" dietary habits. Worms? That's nothing compared to deep fried cockroaches ... particularly appealling during Origin time.
    Four reasons to escape to Queensland: Sun, Surf, Sand & the Titans.


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