Are you eager to join the space race? Maybe you don’t have what it takes, but you can still contribute to the upcoming trip to the Red Planet. NASA has recently launched the Space Poop Challenge, a unique event which is bound to gather inventors from all over the globe.
What’s the purpose of this challenge? For some time now, NASA is preparing the terrain for the upcoming Mars mission. Engines are being redesigned, spacecraft retrofitted, and colonies sketched. However, one detail has been overlooked until now – what happens when Nature calls?
Although it may seem like an insignificant detail compared to the bigger picture, NASA still considers it a high-priority. The space suits currently in service don’t have a waste management/disposal system, per se.
Actually, astronauts have to wear space diapers during their space mission. Granted that these space diapers are made from a super-absorbent material, but they’re a temporary solution.
NASA said that the system currently used for waste disposal could only be used for a couple of hours before it has to be changed. And even in the event that the mission doesn’t last too long, it’s still uncomfortable to sit there in your own waste, not to mention unhealthy.
And so, in order to overcome this obstacle, NASA launched the Space Poop Challenge. Contestants must come up with a waste system that fits NASA’s criteria.
According to NASA, the waste disposal system must be able to integrate human feces, urine, and menstrual fluid. In addition, the system must be easy to integrate into the space suit without any major modifications to it.
The newly-designed waste disposal unit must be able to operate over long periods of time. For example, if a sudden depressurization occurs, the astronauts might have to leave their quarters and seek refuge in space for more than 144 hours.
Moreover, if such an event happens, the astronauts will have less than 60 minutes to put on the bulky space suit. This means that the waste disposal system shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to set up. In addition, the unit must also operate in microgravity conditions.
Anyone over 18 years can enter the competition. The deadline for the project is the 21st of December, and the winners will be announced on the 31st of December. The owner of the winning patent will receive $3,000 from NASA.
Image source: Wikipedia