Dealing with space poop is a challenge and NASA wants your help to figure out what can be done with astronaut poop.
Why is space poop a problem? Space missions require astronauts to wear spacesuits for a duration of up to 10 hours during landing and takeoff and up to six days in case of emergencies and while that may be acceptable, what to do when the astronaut has to answer nature’s call? Temporary solution requires astronauts to wear diapers, but that’s unhygienic if kept on for a day and also uncomfortable.
NASA needs to tackle this critical problem considering it is the question of health of astronauts who will be going Mars and beyond. While NASA has an internal team to find out solutions to such issues, the space agency is looking for your help if you have a solution that can provide a healthy/protective option longer than one day and is capable of addressing faecal, urine, and/or menstrual waste management in a pressurised survival suit environment for six days (144 hours) while protecting the safety and health of crew members.
If we go into specifics of what NASA needs, the solution should be able to collect urine up to one litre per day per crew member for a total of six days; faecal matter up to 75 grams of mass and 75 millilitres of volume per crew member per day; and menstrual waste up to 80 millilitres over six days.
If you have a solution you have until December 20 to submit your designs for a personalized waste-wicking system that will handle everything, hands-free, for a period of up to six days.
NASA says it will award up to three $30,000 prizes for the most promising in-suit waste management systems. The goal is to test them within a year and fully implement them within three years. NASA says the first human missions to Mars could take place by the 2030s. The challenge is open to individuals, age 18 or older, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams from any country. You can check out the challenge at http://www.herox.com/SpacePoop.