Not sensory related (necessarily), but cool nonetheless.
Found a pretty cool article about a new beer which has been developed specifically for consumption in a weightless or microgravity environment.
Astronauts4Hire Flight Member Todd Romberger was selected to perform the flight research. Todd sampled the beer during 12 microgravity parabolas, each reproducing the weightless conditions of space for 30 seconds at a time, and recorded qualitative data on beverage taste and drinkability as well as biometric data to gain a first look at alcohol effects the body.
I’d be interested in finding out what kind of qualitative data they collected and how they recorded “drinkability”. Seems that, for 30 seconds at a time, drinkability (as difficult as it already is to define) would be hard to accurately describe.
Here’s some other interesting information about the project, from someone who was involved with it directly:
The beer is a stout that is brewed for low carbonation and powerful flavor. If the carbonation content is too high, it can cause stomach discomfort in the astronauts/space flight participants because the bubbles can’t go anywhere. This can lead to wet burps (basically throwing up a little bit in the back of your throat, only worse).
The flavor is powerful because of your body’s fluid shift. Without the pull of gravity, blood pressure in the head increases, and astronauts often have a headache in the first day or so until their body equilibrates. However, your senses of taste and smell are numbed compared to while you’re on Earth. In space, astronauts cover everything in hot sauce just so they can taste something. This beer makes up for the numbed taste by increasing the flavor.
The purpose of the experiment was to see what the difference was between the ground taste test and the microgravity taste test (among many other variables). The results are being presented tomorrow afternoon at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researcher’s Conference.