NASA in a recent announcement has come up with a challenge for the inventors across the world. The task is to design a toilet that can work on future lunar lander spacecraft and not just microgravity, in simpler terms a toilet that can function on the moon. The winner of the challenge for the best-designed toilet for the moon will get a reward of $20,000 dollars from NASA. There are also cash prizes for second and third place, the placeholders will get $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.
"This challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment," NASA's challenge specified in an overview posted by them on last Thursday.
The cash prize is not the only reward for the winner, their toilet design will be used for NASA's Artemis program which plans to land the first woman on the moon by 2024. In the past, NASA has developed toilets for space travel that can function in microgravity but they have not been able to come up with a functioning toilet for the moon yet. Moon does have gravity but its gravitational force is only one one-sixth compared to that of Earth.
NASA has also attempted to encourage inventions from the younger generation by organising a prize for the junior category alongside its main challenge. Innovators under 18 would be able to participate in this, the top three designers will receive an item of official
NASA-logoed merchandise and public recognition form NASA.
NASA has put a few rules in place for the challenge to make the moon toilet:
- The toilet should not occupy any more than 4.2 cubic feet in area
- The toilet should operate with noise levels below 60 decibels
- The toilet should be able to collect a litre of urine and 500 grams of faeces simultaneously making it usable just in case any astronaut suffers from diarrhea.
- As the Artemis program aims at putting the first woman on the moon, the moon toilet should be able to deal with up to 114 grams of menstrual blood.
- The turnaround time between two uses should not be more than five minutes.