Under the new ‘Lunar Loo Challenge’, NASA is seeking designs for a toilet that works not just in microgravity, but in lunar gravity as well.
As NASA is set to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, the US space agency is now seeking designs for a toilet that works not just in microgravity, but in lunar gravity as well. NASA on June 25 called on the global community to design concepts for ‘compact toilets’ under their new ‘Lunar Loo Challenge’. The space agency also informed that the designs may be adapted for use in the Artemis lunar landers that will take the astronauts back to the Moon in 2024.
While announcing the new challenge, NASA said that the winning design will receive $20,000 with $10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third. The space agency also encouraged children under the age of 18 to apply in the ‘junior’ category where the prizes are public recognition and NASA-themed merchandise. According to the official site, the challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approached to the problem of human waste capture and containment.
The space agency wrote, “NASA is looking for a next-generation device that is smaller, more efficient, and capable of working in both microgravity and lunar gravity. Getting back to the Moon by 2024 is an ambitious goal, and NASA is already working on approaches to miniaturize and streamline the existing toilets”.
‘Lunar Loo Challenge’ guidelines
According to the guidelines, the toilet should work in Moon’s gravity. It should occupy not more than 4.2 cubic feet and operate with a noise level of fewer than 60 decibels. The toilet should also be able to collect urine and faeces simultaneously, accommodating a litre of the former and 17.6 ounces of the latter.
Furthermore, NASA also said that the toilet designs should conserve water and help maintain a pristine environment inside the lander that is free of odours and other contaminants. The designs should be able to accommodate sick crew members dealing with vomiting and diarrhoea as well. The space agency also specified that the toilet should be able to deal with up to 114 grams of menstrual blood per crew per day and allow for easy cleaning and maintenance, with 5 minute turnaround time or less between uses.