Would you believe me if I told you that NASA was crowdsourcing ideas for a lunar loo and is willing to award the most creative, conceptual design with $20,000 i.e Rs.15 lakh (approx)?
You heard that right folks! NASA is kind of stuck in a ‘constipated’ situation where they are looking for conceptual toilet seat designs that can easily be used on the moon.
Not only that, but it also has to be compatible with the microgravity of space i.e “zero-g” and that of the moon, which is one-sixth of Earth’s gravity.
Although space toilets already exist and are in use (at the International Space Station, for example), they are designed for microgravity only. NASA’s Human Landing System Program is looking for a next-generation device that is smaller, more efficient, and capable of working in both microgravity and lunar gravity.
NASA has announced a mission to send astronauts back on the moon by 2024 and this time, the first woman astronaut to ever set foot on the moon will be accompanying the crew. So the potty seats need to be gender-neutral.
Along with a bunch of other guidelines posted by NASA for the contest, there will be a bonus award for someone who can figure out the following:
Bonus points will be awarded to designs that can capture vomit without requiring the crew member to put his/her head in the toilet.
However, the dimensions of the space potty seat should be .12 cubic meters in volume and weigh less than 14 kgs on Earth. It should, however, have the capacity to collect about a litre of urine and 500 grams of faeces along with 114 grams of menstrual blood per day and per crew member.
It goes without saying that the lunar loo needs to be low maintenance, conserve water and “help maintain a pristine environment inside the lander that is free of odors and other contaminants.”
So if you think you have what it takes to create the luxuries of a toilet we have on Earth along with the precise guidelines of NASA and come up with a conceptual design of a lunar loo, you have until August 17 to submit your ideas.
The top prize is $20,000 and the second and third place winners will get $10,000 and $5,000. May the best lunar loo, potty seat design win!