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NASA’s $30K ‘Space Poop Challenge’ Makes #2’s #1 Spacesuit Priority

NASA’s $30K ‘Space Poop Challenge’ Makes #2’s #1 Spacesuit Priority

Space… the final frontier… also, where’s the bathroom, yo?

It turns out that while outer space is full of endless wonder and sublime beauty, it is, apparently, not so great for the ol’ bottom-half-of-the-human-body biological functions. And because this problem is exponentially worse for astronauts while they’re inside of their space suits, NASA has started a HeroX campaign to find out if any modest terrestrial folk can come up with a new, far more efficient, space suit waste disposal system.

NASA’s effort to find a more efficient space suit waste disposal system has been dubbed the “Space Poop Challenge,” and offers a reward of $30,000 to whoever can come up with the best “system inside a space suit that collects human waste for up to 144 hours and routes it away from the body, without the use of hands.”

The challenge, which ends December 20th, sounds daunting enough to make even Mark Watney wonder if there really is a solution to this problem. As NASA points out, liquids, solids and gases behave differently in microgravity than they do here on Earth, which means capturing waste will require some serious ingenuity. As of right now, NASA’s solution to this epic space poop problem is…diapers.

Perhaps there could be some kind of nanobots that consume the waste and then simply don’t excrete it? Or maybe there’s some way to adjust a human’s digestive system so he only goes very seldom, condensing eaten matter into Nibbler-like dark matter balls. Either way, Black Mirror should do an episode about this: The twist could be that there’s a Taco Bell on Mars.

What do you think about this NASA “Space Poop Challenge”? Do you think you’d be OK with the bathroom situation while trapped on a six-month trip to Mars or in a space suit for six days? Or are you more like Larry David, in need of a “home base”? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Images: NASA

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