NASA asks for help in transforming astronauts poo and breath into space gold

NASA is asking for your help in transforming astronauts’ space poo into useful products – dubbed ‘space gold’.

The space agency is trying to work out how to recycle human waste, which includes faeces, but also the carbon dioxide we breathe out, rubbish and foam packaging materials, in order to turn them into useful products.

Being able to do that could help astronauts go on longer missions without being restricted by the amount of resources they can bring.

NASA is unsure however how to create this so-called ‘space gold’, which is why they have launched a new crowdsourcing challenge called Waste to Base Materials Challenge: Sustainable Reprocessing in Space.

The person or the team that comes up with the best idea will be rewarded with a $24,000 (£18,000) prize.

Separate $1,000 (£738) prizes are also awarded for the best idea in each individual category – poo, carbon dioxide, rubbish and foam packaging materials.

The NASA website outlines to anyone wishing to apply that they should imagine they're on a two to three year journey to Mars with limited supplies.

It states: "This challenge is all about finding ways to convert waste into base materials and other useful things, like propellant or feedstock for 3D printing.

"We are looking for your ideas for how to convert different waste streams into useful materials that can then be made into needed things and cycled through multiple times, and we are looking for ideas to convert waste into propellant.

Do you think you have what it takes for NASA's challenge? Let us know in the comments below!

"Eventually, we would like to integrate all the different processes into a robust ecosystem that allows a spacecraft to launch from Earth with the lowest possible mass."

Some recycling in space already takes place on current missions, with astronauts on the International Space Station using a water recycling system since 2009, helping them recycle urine and water from condensation.

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