Thursday, July 07, 2011

NASA Astronauts Drink Pee For Science

One of the things I will miss the most when NASA no longer has a spaceship, will be the many new and interesting ways they had to punish their astronauts.

Ok, ok, so making them test the new urine-to-drinking-water portable device is not actually punishment, it sounds like punishment to those of us who can just get up and fetch a glass of water from the tap.

In space, the plumbing simply does not work the same way. If you want water to drink you need to bring it with you (which is expensive) make it yourself (using the raw materials you find or through the use of fuel cells which have a limited supply) and recycle the water you waste (drink your own pee and the pee of your companions.)


The astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been drinking recycle pee for years now, and it so far has not caused them any long term harm.

The cool thing about this new device NASA is testing is its size. About the same as a notebook. It has already been field tested by soldiers, although not in space. Zero gravity does sometimes adversely affect the way things work, so knowing the device will work in space is crucial before handing it to astronauts.

Also, the device doesn't make regular water, it makes a substance which describe as something like a sports drink. Call it "Peter-Ade." No doubt delicious!

These new devices require no external power source to work, which is good, and supply astronauts with a nutrient rich hydration solution. Crucial stuff for missions to the Moon, Mars or even an asteroid. Although other bodies in space have been found to hold water it will be some time before visiting astronauts are able to drink it, so devices such as the portable-non-powered-pee-recycler will come in handy.

Being able to have drinkable water en-route to any of those places is also good thing, however, even if NASA doesn't currently have a spaceship to get us there.

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