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Science: 

Could astronauts live on worms?

worms body1

Mmmmmmmm… tasty

Three researchers have been eating worms for 105 days while living in a sealed lab in Beijing, the BBC reports, to test whether astronauts could use them as their main source of protein.

The worms were fattened up on plants grown inside a biosphere at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and were prepared using a bean sauce and various other seasonings to make them taste, well, less like worms.

Concerns about taste

According to the South China Morning Post, the idea of feeding protein-rich mealworms to spacemen was raised in 2009, but scientists at western space agencies were concerned they wouldn’t taste very nice and could cause the astronauts to get a bit depressed. But it’s reported that the volunteers stayed healthy and happy on the diet.

Researcher Hu Dawei said, “It did take them some time to adapt. None of them had ever tried the food before. Worms may look disgusting at first glance, but they are actually the cleanest and healthiest food source”.

High in protein

The mealworms are composed of more than 76 per cent protein and can grow to the size of a finger in about a month. Hu added, “The United Nations has recommended mealworms for starving people in poor areas such as Africa, so we thought why can’t they be used by astronauts in space.”

China’s space authorities, which first put a man into space in 2003 and plans to launch a space station by 2023, might now consider using worms in the planning of future missions.

As we’ve previously reported, an astronaut’s favourite food is bacon. Do worms taste like bacon? No. No, they don’t. We predict chaos.

Photo: Praisaeng/Shutterstock

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