According to a March 16, 2013 news story in Hawaii News Now, scientists at the University of Hawaii are scrambling to defend a Mars food research project that has been mocked by Sen. Rand Paul as well as by Fox News talker Bill O’Reilly. The research project, to develop a menu for future Mars explorers, has been touted as an example of wasteful government spending.
The scientists point out that for any human Mars mission, which would last up to three years, to succeed new ways will have to be found to store and to prepare food. Far from being worthy of ridicule, an effort to develop foods that astronauts on long duration space missions can eat is crucial for long term plans for the exploration of space. The idea of an eventual Mars mission has been an official goal of NASA since President George W. Bush announced it as part of his Vision for Space Exploration in 2004. While President Barack Obama cancelled the return to the moon portion of the Bush program, he reaffirmed the goal of going to Mars in an April, 2010 speech.