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  • Monday, August 23, 2021
  • UAF Team Enters NASA Video Animation Competition

video animation for the NASA Deep Space Food Challenge was recently submitted by a team that includes UAF researchers. The animation created by UAF’s Naomi Hutchquist summarizes work from the Alaska Space Grant program, which are sponsored by NASA.

The Deep Space Food Challenge, a NASA Centennial Challenge, seeks ideas for novel food production technologies or systems that require minimal resources and produce minimal waste, while providing safe, nutritious and tasty food for long-duration human exploration missions. The top 20 team concept entries win $25,000 and can enter phase 2 of the competition.

The animation to which UAF researchers contributed discusses three types of food that would be lower in cost and weight to produce in outer space than prepackaged food or artificial light growing algae or crops. These efficient foods include hydrogen-eating microbes, electrically powered microbes that produce vinegar and nonbiological synthesis of glycerol (glycerin).

The growth of these foods would act as the life-support system by consuming carbon dioxide and producing oxygen on the spacecraft. This could potentially extend the mission from two years to 20 years. These foods could also be useful for catastrophes on Earth, such as abrupt climate change or an asteroid impact, helping to prevent mass starvation. Furthermore, seeing as they would pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere or from smokestacks, they would be good for long-term sustainability.

UAF researchers included David Denkenberger and Ph.D. student Kyle Alvarado. They worked with Juan García Martínez and Xenia Christodoulou at the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters. Voiceover was by Allfed’s Ariel Conn, and UAF’s Naomi Hutchquist made the animation.

For more information on this animation or the NASA competition, please contact David Denkenberger at


A screen shot of UAF’s NASA Deep Space Food Challenge animation competition entry.