When you wish upon a star, it might be astronaut poo.
American astronaut Scott Kelly is currently spending a whole year in space aboard the International Space Station to help us learn what micro-gravity does to the human body over long periods of time. Yesterday, NASA released an infographic of the impressive numbers Kelly can boast after his stint in orbit is over. It reminds us that not all shooting stars are so magical; sometimes shooting stars are 180 pounds of feces doomed to burn up in the atmosphere:
Other notable numbers include the 10,944 sunrises that Kelly will see on the ISS. The station currently screams around the Earth at five miles per second, so a sunrise comes every 90 minutes for Commander Kelly. As xkcd puts it, “The ISS moves so quickly that if you fired a rifle bullet from one end of a football field, the International Space Station could cross the length of the field before the bullet traveled 10 yards.” That’s fast.
Though space poo is jettisoned into our atmosphere, urine is not. The infographic also helpfully points out that Kelly will drink 730 liters (193 gallons) of recycled urine and sweat in total. Water is too valuable to waste, so filtration systems on the ISS make sure every drop that isn’t lost to evaporation is accounted for. (Our water treatment plants do the same thing with our waste down here on Earth, but not to the same extent.)
But beyond the sheer numbers that it will accrue — 650 miles on a space treadmill and the same amount of radiation you would receive on 5,250 flights from LA to New York — Kelly’s body will help us understand how micro-gravity affects a human as a whole. Through constant sampling and experiments, we’ll soon get a better idea of how muscles and bones waste away without the constant tug of 1G, how blood and other fluids move around the body, how the heart deals with a spherical re-shaping, and more.
And Scott Kelly’s year in space just passed the halfway mark, so you have another six months to wish upon some very special shooting stars.