Luca Parmitano and his colleague astronauts have a treat waiting for them on ATV Albert Einstein. Plant-for-the-Planet foundation managed to ship twelve bars of fair-trade chocolate to the International Space Station.
Called Change Chocolate, the sweet is meant to make saving the world a tasty treat instead of a chore. Change Chocolate dealers and producers give up their profits to the Plant-for-the-Planet charity. They use the money to plant so many trees that the production of each bar is completely climate neutral.
Twelve bars were sent into space for the astronauts to enjoy – two for each astronaut. The Swiss-made chocolate was shipped from Germany to Turin and then hitched a ride with other late cargo by plane to Kourou for launch.
Kirsten MacDonell, ATV cargo manager, was contacted by Plant-for-the-Planet: “I thought it was a nice idea but of course we would only launch it if there was some mass and volume left over after all the cargo was manifested.” she says. As it turned out there was still some room left in ATV-4’s cargo bags and the chocolate was put in a zip-lock bag and packed ready for spaceflight.
With Change Chocolate there is less reason for feeling guilty about eating chocolate – except for the extra calories that is. And on the calorie note we can fill in guest blogger Rhett Allain’s calculations to work out how much energy it costs to get the bars to the astronauts:
In order to get an object into orbit, it has to increase in two types of energy: kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy. Both of these energies depend on the mass of the object.
For an object in orbit at the height of the International Space Station, the speed must be 7,700 m/s and the change in height of 420 km. If you have a 100 gram candy bar, this would be a change in energy of 3.32 million Joules.
But what if the astronauts consumed this same 100 gram candy bar? The Change chocolate has an energy of 557 Kcal or 2330 kJ. If you used the consumed energy of the candy to get the candy into orbit, it would take 3320 kJ/2330 kJ or 1.42 pieces of chocolate.
So a little more energy than the astronauts will get, but if the chocolate bars were not added as late cargo it would have been filled with ballast.
And what does it taste like? “You can tell it is very good quality nice chocolate” says Kirsten. The photo here shows what is left of one bar of chocolate ATV blog editors managed to get their hands on during docking day, it was delicious and fueled our concentration for the event.
More info about the chocolate on Twitter via @pftp_int or at www.into-the-chocosphere.org