The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said it is offering $35,000 in prizes to anyone who can design a toilet that can be used on the moon.
The American independent agency has set an ambitious goal of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and the crew will obviously have to go to the bathroom during the mission. According to CNN, NASA may adapt the toilet design for its Artemis lunar lander, so it will need to work both in the microgravity of space, or “zero-g,” and on the moon, where the gravity is about a sixth of what we feel on earth, according to the design guidelines posted by NASA and HeroX, which allows anyone to create challenges to solve a problem facing the world. The mission will include the first female astronaut to ever travel to the moon, so the toilets will need to be able to accommodate men and women. The toilet designs should also conserve water and “help maintain a pristine environment inside the lander that is free of odours and other contaminants. “Bonus points will be awarded to designs that can capture vomit without requiring the crew member to put his/her head in the toilet,” the guidelines said. It should be able to support a crew of two astronauts for 14 days and allow for the transfer of the collected waste to storage or for disposal outside the vehicle. The toilet should be easy to clean and maintain and should have a turnaround time of five minutes or less between uses. It also needs to use less than 70 watts of power and make less noise than an average bathroom fan.