Friday, April 12, 2024

NASA is asking for public help to design toilets for astronauts on the Moon

If you consider yourself creative and with the ability to design solutions, this is the opportunity for you to be part of this ambitious NASA project, which is also part of the “Artemis Program.”

Through the contest, called Lunar Loo Challenge, NASA is calling on the global community for their novel design concepts for compact toilets that can operate in both microgravity and lunar gravity. According to the space agency, the ideas sent may assist in the development of the toilet for use in the Artemis lunar landers that will take us back to Earth’s natural satellite.

As we know, NASA is moving forward with its next Artemis mission, with which they seek to take a woman to the Moon for the first time in 2024. Among all the preparations for this mission is the issue of using the toilet in space. It goes without saying that space toilets already exist. 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 current options are only designed for International Space Station (ISS), where there is no gravity.

Lunar gravity is one-sixth of Earth’s gravity; this means that bodily fluids and solids will “fall”, but more slowly, which brings its own complex challenges.

According to the official page of the contest, NASA’s goal is to “think outside the box” to find solutions different from those used by the space agency today. “This challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment”, NASA explains.

Those interested in participating will have to read the list of technical requirements requested by NASA. The device should be compact and lightweight, water- and energy-efficient, quiet-flushing, usable by both men and women, and capable of handling both solid and liquid waste.

To enter the competition, you must submit your application through the HeroX Innovation Network, which is administering the contest on behalf of NASA, before August 17. The winner of the Lunar Loo Challenge will be rewarded with $35,000. There is also a separate Junior category aimed at children under 18. The top three participants in this category will each receive public recognition of NASA, a winner certificate and an official merchandise item with the NASA logo. Winners of the main Technical category will be announced on September 30, while Junior winners will be released on October 20.