NASA Wants Your Help Engineering Future Moon Toilets for Prize of $35,000
NASA has just announced a challenge for a hefty prize and wants you to help in bringing the astronauts back to the Moon in 2024.
It is trying to tackle one big problem that has stumped NASA engineers since the early days of space travel: pooping in peace in space.
Space toilets do already exist, and some are getting updates like we've reported before in the case of ISS, but NASA is after a new design that’s smaller, more efficient, and works in both microgravity and lunar gravity.
The just-launched “Lunar Loo Challenge” is a collaboration between NASA’s Human Landing System Program and a HeroX, a startup that organizes crowdsourcing campaigns.
The toilet to go on Moon in 2024
This toilet will be a part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.
Since the lander will take astronauts from lunar orbit to the Moon, its restroom has to be pretty versatile: it will need to work in orbit, where the astronauts will be weightless, and also when astronauts are experiencing one-sixth of Earth’s gravity on the lunar surface.
NASA wrote, "Getting back to the Moon by 2024 is an ambitious goal, and NASA is already working on approaches to miniaturize and streamline the existing toilets.
"But they are also inviting ideas from the global community, knowing that they will approach the problem with a mindset different from traditional aerospace engineering. This challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment."
What are the requirements?
If you have the winning idea for a dream toilet, you could even take home the cash prize and be acknowledged as the brain behind relieving the astronauts' behinds -- or something along those lines.
There is a Junior category for those under 18 too, since, as the press release states, "students may think about this design problem without the same constraints as adults."
According to documents by organizers, the perfect design must allow for "simultaneous urination and defecation" and accommodate "500g of diarrhea per event." Also, the toilet has to be in a way that "the crew is not exposed to urine, feces, or other collected materials."
Here are the full requirements.
The three best design concepts will win $35,000
The three best design concepts will win $35,000 that will be shared among the teams and the opportunity to discuss the concepts with NASA engineers. However, only one toilet might make it to the Moon in 2024.
The deadline for submissions is August 17th. Adult winners will be announced on September 30th and junior winners on October 20th.
Your design could change the way people poop on Moon and make it it's best and most hygienic since the history of space travel -- and if that's not a motivation, we don't know what is.