It turns out that, even in space, freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies smell incredible. Recently, a batch of chocolate chip cookies — the first food ever baked in space — returned to Earth aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule (three of the five cookies, which were baked one at a time, were returned to Earth). The cookies started out from the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel chain as Earth-made dough, which launched to the International Space Station along with the Zero G oven (the first oven designed to work in space) on Nov. 2, 2019. Now, following the cookies' return, we have the final results from this delicious experiment.
So, first things first, the astronauts aboard the space station were able to smell the second, third, fourth and fifth cookies they baked, a press representative said in an email statement (the first cookie turned out under baked and didn't cook long enough to emit an aroma). In space, even without gravity, smells travel via individual aroma molecules. In the microgravity environment aboard the space station, these molecules travel in whatever direction they are moved. (On Earth, the aroma molecules move in all directions due to random collisions with air molecules.)
Now, smelling the chocolate-chip cookies on the space station, where astronauts can eat only "space foods," you might assume that the spacefliers wouldn't be able to resist sneaking a bite of a freshly baked cookie. However, "while the brand's chocolate chip cookies were likely fit for consumption after they were baked on the ISS, additional testing is required before any food can be considered officially 'edible,'" the representative told Space.com in an email.
Before the cookie dough headed to the space station, there was speculation about how the dough would bake in microgravity. Would it puff up and bake into a sphere? Would it look like a regular cookie? Would the cookie take longer to bake? Would it take less time? On Earth, the average cookie made with this DoubleTree chocolate-chip cookie dough took 16-18 minutes to bake in a convection oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius). The astronauts, who baked the first four cookies at 300 F and the fifth cookie at 325 F (165 C), were instructed to figure out exactly how long it would take to properly bake a cookie in space.
So, were they spherical? Weird looking? Apparently not. The cookies looked just like cookies baked on Earth, according to a DoubleTree statement.