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NASA Asks “What To Do With Poo?”

Photo: NASA / HeroX

NASA is asking the public for help solving a problem of long-duration space flight: What to do with poo?

Here’s the problem: If humans are going to travel past low-earth orbit, they’re going to be farther away from home. If something goes wrong, like a loss of cabin pressure, they’ll have to live inside their space suits for up to 6 days.

So what do you do with urine and fecal matter during that time? Until now, astronauts only needed to be in their spacesuits, kind of like a wearable life boat, for about 10 hours. They used simple urine collection systems and adult diapers.

But long-term wear has its own set of challenges. Somehow, it needs to be moved away from the body in order to prevent infection or rash. And it needs to operate in microgravity.

The crowd-sourced challenge is a “competition to source a system that routes and collects human waste away from the body, hands-free, for fully suited astronauts.”

A group of NASA scientists will select up to three written proposal to continue researching – with the winners sharing a $30,000 prize.

Have an idea for NASA? Visit their crowd-sourcing site to submit a solution: Space Poop Challenge 

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »