Austrian astronauts and Armenian apricots’ mission to Mars - Mediamax.am

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Austrian astronauts and Armenian apricots’ mission to Mars


Photo: personal archive

Photo: OeWF

Photo: OeWF

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: OeWF

Photo: OeWF

Photo: Mediamax


In March 2024, a team of astronauts was in Armenia as part of the Mars analogue mission program (“AMADEE-24”). In the simulator located in the Ararat region, they conducted experiments for about a month, using various rovers and robotics, preparing for future exploration missions to Mars.

 

Ensuring proper diet and physical training is paramount for the success of the mission. Hovhannes Avagyan, a sports nutritionist and personal trainer, was responsible for optimal diet to ensure the best training of astronauts and quick recovery of the body.

 

Mediamax talked with Hovhannes about the special application defining the diet and the nutritional bars made from apricots.

 

After being in a number of other countries, the astronauts, who conducted their experimental mission in Armenia, will long remember the taste of Armenian apricots. Despite the need for a meticulously balanced cosmic diet, thanks to Hovhannes’ fruit bars it can also be delicious.

Photo: OeWF

“Apricots are the most delicious fruit for me, and when combined with pulses, they create a fantastic taste. We’ve achieved the perfect blend of apricots, pulses, vegetable proteins (mushrooms), grape seed oil, apricot seed oil, and other ingredients. The bar we have created has all the chances to be used in NASA one day,” said Hovhannes.

 

Specially for astronauts, four flavors of the bar have been received: apricot, peach, plum and a mixed version of all three. Additionally, Hovhannes developed Armenian fruit purees as another appetizing option.

 

“The astronauts really liked both the taste and the quality of the bars. It does not stick to the palate, blends well with saliva and is easily swallowed. Many nutritional bars have these problems, so we developed ours with careful consideration of the shortcomings of our competitors,” noted Hovhannes.

 

Although the bars proved ideal for the hard physical work of “Mars” exploration, Hovhannes developed the recipe long before the decision to conduct AMADEE-24 in Armenia.

Photo: OeWF

For many years, Hovhannes Avagyan has been working as a personal trainer at Orange Fitness. In 2021, he has also founded the Go Fit gym. Initially, Hovhannes became interested in proper nutrition as a means to enhance his own athletic career. He began to study at a scientific level and do various experiments. The bars he created were first tested in sports by Artur Davtyan, a four-time gymnastics world champion.

Photo: Mediamax

In the beginning, I tried to develop something for Artur to ensure he received the necessary amounts of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates during competitions, allowing his body to function optimally. It was then that I realized that we were creating a high-tech product that could be utilized not only in professional sports but also for astronauts,” recalled Hovhannes.

 

Even without considering the possibility of Armenia having such an extensive space program, since 2021, Hovhannes had already developed the initial samples of bars intended for astronauts. Subsequently, upon the recommendation of Hayk Aslanyan, the head of the Armenian Space Forum, Hovhannes became the person responsible for the diet and training of astronauts as part of AMADEE-24. In January 2024, he traveled to Austria to familiarize himself with the training program.

Photo: OeWF

Now the bars developed by Hovhannes are waiting for the certification stage. Upon completion, they will be able to compete with the leading products in the international market as body-restoring bars designed for professionals.

 

Parallel to this, Hovhannes was working on the idea of an application for determining diet using artificial intelligence. A simple version of the application was created with the help of Hayk Aslanyan to develop the diet for AMADEE-24 astronauts.

Photo: OeWF

“Individual data are necessary: weight, height, age, gender, physical condition, food preferences, allergies, and more. Geographical location is also important as individuals digest foods from their region more effectively. We used the simple version of the application within the framework of the program, but soon we will improve it so that every individual can receive the diet tailored to their needs,” said Hovhannes.

 

According to him, the application used during the mission also factored in the workload of each astronaut based on their daily agenda. For example, if an astronaut had to go out for a walk that day and wear a spacesuit weighing 50 kg, the artificial intelligence computed the energy expenditure associated with the task and recommended appropriate food intake to supplement it.

Photo: Mediamax

Although the Armenian phase of the program has ended, Hovhannes is looking forward to the final global trial of AMADEE in 2028, in which the Armenian expert team will also participate.

 

“Since Armenia is not so rich in minerals, we should focus on “small” but valuable production,” noted Hovhannes. He advises not to spare effort and energy on the way of making one’s dreams a goal and achieving them.

 

“You have to believe in what you do because if you invest time in something, sooner or later, it will yield results. As the Americans say, ‘hard work pays off.’”

 

Gaiane Yenokian

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