A selection of Italian extra virgin olive oils is due to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS), Olive Oil Times wrote.
The oils will be brought to the ISS, located about 400km above the Earth’s surface, by commander of the mission - Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, according to the 15 December report.
Supporters of the initiative hoped to study how the product holds up in space and also promote olive oil culture, the report said, with one of the oils used to research how being in space impacted quality.
The ISS confirmed that the astronauts would consume the extra virgin olive oils with meals.
“I would not forget to bring olive oil with me, which also gives flavour to anything, even to the rehydrated salads that we eat up here,” Cristoforetti said.
High doses of radiation (both cosmic and solar) in space could modify some elements of the oil, according to the report, while the lack of gravity, also called a micro-gravity environment, might also cause the oils to coalesce and aggregate, Olive Oil Times wrote.
Cristoforetti’s selection includes three monovarietal extra virgin olive oils, made from the traditional Italian cultivars: Frantoio, Bosana and Biancolilla.
Unaprol, the Italian olive producers’ consortium and one of the project partners, said four separate mono-varietal extra virgin olive oils would be offered to other astronauts with specific meals.
“The seven extra virgin olive oils, three destined to the bonus food and four to astronaut’s meals, have been chosen among tens of tested samples because of their chemical-physical and organoleptic characteristics,” Unaprol general director Nicola di Noia told Olive Oil Times.
Monocultivar extra virgin olive oils were selected rather than blends to demonstrate the organoleptic qualities of different olive varieties, all of which were characterised by a “very high natural antioxidant profile,” Di Noia said.
The experiment will allow researchers to study the chemical profile of each oil to understand any changes that occur in space, according to the report, with samples brought back to Earth after six months, 12 months and 18 months on the ISS.
Cristoforetti is due to arrive on the ISS in a SpaceX Dragon capsule on 15 April.