Although the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has already figured out how to send folks to space and the moon (and is gearing up for doing so once more in 2024), it has yet to properly solve the space toilet conundrum-and the agency would love for regular folks to help them with the issue.
NASA's Lunar Loo Challenge in partnership with HeroX is looking for brains out there who can design a compact toilet that not only gets through microgravity (which already exists on the ISS) but can do anything your throne here on Earth can, except on the Moon.
There is a category for adults, and for children to send in their designs. However, what NASA is looking for this time around is something smaller, more efficient, and functional in microgravity and the gravity that exists on the Moon.
The Indian Express is now on Telegram. This toilet is meant for use inside the cabin when they aren't in all their gear, so at least it doesn't have to accommodate an entire spacesuit. This challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment. "Although the preferred method for capturing vomit will be emesis bags ('throw up' bags), bonus points will be awarded to designs that can capture vomit without requiring the crew member to put his/her head in the toilet", NASA said in a statement. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (some restrictions apply). According to the Verge, the mission will be a trip from lunar orbit to the moon's surface. And whoever designs a space toilet for the moon will receive $35,000.
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'Our future goals are to stabilize and dry the metabolic waste to make it microbially inactive and possibly reuse that water, reduce the amount of consumables for the potty, ' Jim Broyan, a deputy program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, told Space.com.
Having a universal, or standardised toilet design that can be adapted for multiple vehicles reduces overall costs. For example it can't use up a lot of energy, it has to consist of "a mass of less than 15 kilograms in Earth's gravity", and must collect up to "1 liter of urine per use".
It should occupy no more than 0.12 cubic metres and operate with a noise level of less than 60 decibels - roughly equal to a bathroom ventilation fan on Earth. That includes a specialized toilet.
The Lunar Loo also needs to handle female menstruation, be able to stabile urine to avoid the generation of gas and handle toilet paper, wipes and gloves.
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