Getting meals right is an aspect of mission design, so the Nutrition Monitoring for the International Space Station (NutrISS) experiment is tracking Luca’s energy balance.
Using the EveryWear astronaut app and a ‘bioelectric impedance’ device to measure his bodily conductivity, Luca has been tracking his fat to mass ratio. The science teams on Earth hope that a carefully-tailored high-protein diet could limit the typical microgravity-driven loss of bone and muscle.
EveryWear is an iPad-based application that collects physiology and medical data from astronauts on the International Space Station. It is connected to wearable biomedical sensors that record exercise, heart rate and sleep quality.
Its main use is as a food diary. The astronaut simply scans the barcode of the food with the built-in tablet camera, classify it as breakfast, lunch dinner or snack, and add how water was consumed.
The crew can also add food by tapping on a specific product. The app comes loaded with a database containing all the food on the Space Station, both in English and in Russian. If something is not listed yet, there is an option to take a picture.
An added value of the tool is that it connects the astronaut with nutrition experts on Earth, some 400 km below. Ground teams receive the information and can suggest the best combination of meals for a healthy stay in orbit.
In addition to the weekly expert advice, the app delivers automated nutrition reports for astronauts to monitor their daily intake and check the recommended dose. The focus is on calories, protein, water, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, calcium, iron and potassium.