Simon Engler sees himself as a typical engineer — cooking is not his strong suit.
But NASA scientists will soon put him and five others skilled in areas other than the culinary arts as part of a simulated mission to Mars.
A voyage to the Red Planet would take anywhere from 2 to 3 years, which creates difficulties associated with maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet for the astronauts aboard.
Next year, Engler will be put through the paces for four months to determine proper training techniques and food choices for a potential mission to Mars.
Reached by phone Thursday after learning he’d been chosen for the study, Engler welcomed the opportunity and said he’s not worried about his Mars-bound menu options.
“For me, I have a see food, eat food policy . . . it’s pretty hard to find food that I won’t eat,” Engler.
The former University of Calgary student figures the food aboard a space shuttle can be no worse than the military rations he routinely ate while on a 10-month combat tour in Afghanistan in 2009.
“There was only one of those I really liked,” he said of the rations. “It was the chili.”
Engler is no stranger to the spotlight either.
While overseas, he developed a robotics platform that could roll over Afghan terrain in search of objects planted by enemies. The creation gained widespread media attention and is now on display in Calgary’s Military Museums.
And when asked if would ever consider devoting years of his life towards a real trip to Mars, Engler didn’t hesitate.
“Oh yeah, absolutely, in a minute,” he said.