Italian EVOO Reaches the International Space Station

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti brought four Italian monovarietals to the ISS, which will be used for a series of experiments and food preparation.
By Ylenia Granitto
May. 5, 2022 13:40 UTC

Last week, four Italian olive oils were sent into orbit on the International Space Station (ISS), and they are now fly­ing at an alti­tude of approx­i­mately 400 kilo­me­ters above Earth.

They were brought into space by the European Space Agency (ESA) astro­naut Samantha Cristoforetti, who returned to the ISS for her sec­ond mis­sion, Minerva.

This year, Samantha Cristoforetti’s return to the International Space Station, obtained through our nego­ti­a­tions with the ESA in the last few years, under­lines, also sym­bol­i­cally, the impor­tance our coun­try has been giv­ing to space activ­i­ties for some time,” said Giorgio Saccoccia, the pres­i­dent of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

See Also:Olive Oil Research Updates

I wish good luck and all the best in her work to Samantha for her new and extra­or­di­nary adven­ture,” he added.

As a mis­sion spe­cial­ist, Cristoforetti took on the role of USOS Lead, respon­si­ble for oper­a­tions within the United States Orbital Segment of the ISS for the dura­tion of the mis­sion.

Moreover, dur­ing her time in orbit, she will con­duct numer­ous exper­i­ments, cov­er­ing dif­fer­ent sec­tors of med­i­cine and nutri­tion, includ­ing six exper­i­ments set up by ASI.

Among these, the EVOO’ project is focused on bal­anced nutri­tion. It stud­ies the impact of space envi­ron­ment con­di­tions on the physio-chem­i­cal, nutri­tional and micro­bi­o­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of extra vir­gin olive oil, with a spe­cific focus on its reac­tions to micro­grav­ity and radi­a­tions.

Furthermore, part of the oils is intended for the prepa­ra­tion of the so-called bonus food, which indi­cates the spe­cial­ties, pre­pared and pack­aged on the ground, that each astro­naut can choose to bring with them to sup­ple­ment the pro­vided stan­dard diet.


Samantha Cristoforetti (NASA/Robert Markowitz)

All the mem­bers of the crew will ben­e­fit from the qual­ity choices of Cristoforetti and find on their spa­tial table four mono­va­ri­etals: a Carolea, Itrana, Moraiolo and a Coratina.

The sen­sory pro­files and pair­ing sug­ges­tions are indi­cated on their labels: Carolea is rec­om­mended for fish, Itrana with sal­ads, Moraiolo on the meat and Coratina to enhance the most intense fla­vors.

The project is the result of an agree­ment between the Italian Space Agency and the Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of Coldiretti and Unaprol, the Italian asso­ci­a­tion of olive oil pro­duc­ers, which selected the high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils from dif­fer­ent regions.


Samantha Cristoforetti (second from left) aboard the International Space Station (NASA)

Proper nutri­tion of astro­nauts is a very impor­tant health issue aboard the ISS,” said Coldiretti in a press release. The extra vir­gin olive oils that we selected with Unaprol for the project share a high con­tent of nat­ural antiox­i­dants, which are essen­tial for those who, like astro­nauts, are sub­jected to con­di­tions of intense psy­chophys­i­cal stress.”


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