NASA has launched another challenge for the public, this one seeking concepts for a toilet design that could be used by astronauts on the Moon. Suitably called the Lunar Loo challenge, this competition is offering up $35,000 in prizes for teams who propose effective designs for toilets that can operate in both microgravity and lunar gravity environments.
Of course, NASA already has its own space toilet design — it’s in use on the International Space Station. However, this toilet is only designed to be used in microgravity, the environment found on the ISS. The toilet design NASA seeks — its Lunar Loo — will need to also be functional in lunar gravity, meaning astronauts have to be able to use it while they’re on the Moon.
The Lunar Loo will need to be compact for the obvious reason that the Moon is no place for a large toilet, plus it’ll need to be something that could potentially be adapted for use in NASA’s lunar landers. Beyond that, the toilet will need to function in all of the same ways as toilets on Earth.
At this point in time, NASA says that it is already working on ways to ‘miniaturize and streamline’ its existing space toilets. However, the space agency hopes the public will be able to provide it with ‘radically new and different approaches’ to humanity’s space toilet needs that’ll pave the way for innovative new lunar systems.
Teams interested in designing a concept for the NASA Lunar Loo challenge need to have participants who are at least 18 years or older, but there is also a Junior category for teams of people who are under the age of 18. The top three teams in the adult Technical category will split the $35,000 prize, while the top three youth Junior category teams will get official NASA merchandise and public recognition.
All the details can be found on the NASA Lunar Loo contest page.