Gravity and cosmic rays had no effect on the quality of the extra virgin olive oil that remained six months in space and, therefore, the extra virgin olive oil can permanently enter the astronauts’ diet: in fact, its valuable nutritional and health characteristics have remained unchanged. These are the results of experiments on olive oil samples returned to Earth after spending six months on the International Space Station (ISS) together with Esa astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, presented as a preview at the Coldiretti Village in Cosenza, Calabria, as part of a project within the framework of the agreement between the Italian Space Agency and CREA, in collaboration with Coldiretti and Unaprol
The project is studying, through an original and unprecedented experiment, the effects of being in space on the chemical-physical, sensory and nutritional characteristics of extra virgin olive oil, as well as its possible application on our planet. The sample was analysed in Calabria, at the Rende site of the CREA’s Centre for Olive, Fruit and Citrus Fruit Growing Research, as part of the ‘EVOO in Space: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil in Space (EVOOS)’ project, where it was compared with samples of the same oil stored in the same packaging but left on Earth.
This unique experiment revealed how the composition of the secondary metabolites – phenols and tocopherols (vitamin E) – of Made in Italy extra virgin olive oil is not affected by microgravity and radiation in space over a period of six months, but also provides information on the stability of extra virgin olive oil and its shelf life in space conditions. From the preliminary data obtained, it emerged in fact that the special vacuum-packed protective bag packaging, tested and currently allowed on missions aboard the ISS, which is impermeable to oxygen and vacuum-packed, allowed the extra virgin olive oil to be preserved for at least the first 6 months inside the ISS, ensuring a quality Made in Italy product, still rich in biophenols and tocopherols.