Crap happens, even in space. However, NASA has no idea what to do with poop once it happens.
NASA is offering a $30,000 to whoever can develop an idea for the poop problem. In a video posted to Vimeo, Astronaut Rick Mastracchio implores the public to help. Innovation challenge and prize platform HeroX partnered with NASA to promote the problem-solving competition.
“I can tell you that space flight is not always glamorous,” Mastracchio said. “People need to go to the bathroom even in a spacecraft. How is this waste treated such that it does not harm the astronaut or even kill them?”
But people aren’t only removing waste in this scenario. Mastracchio said the space vehicle also goes out of the question too. An unspecified emergency means the astronauts only have their suits to survive to protect themselves from the vacuum of space.
[Image Courtesy of NASA/ISS]
So not only do you have to figure out what happens with bodily wastes, you’ll also have to tackle getting clean air, water, and nutrients for up to six days into this suit.
There are so many outliers and outcomes to account for in this challenge. What about female astronauts during menstruation? How do you comfortably poop in a space suit? What if your poop is a large load due to the stress endured from losing the ship? Should people offer the Bear Grylls solution of straining your pee to drink?
SciShow managed to put together some great information on how using your business works in space currently. Check out the video below:
Another problem to be tackled? The very limited amount of room astronauts have inside their suits. No one wants to have fecal matter or urine floating around with them in such tight quarters. Think of babies and diaper rash. The situation would be even less pleasant for adults desperately needing to return to earth.
Think you have what it takes? The deadline for submissions is December 20. Simply log into the HeroX’s site, click ‘Accept Challenge’ and get to work. It might be one small turd for man, but it’ll be one giant solution for mankind.