As reported by Design & Trend, the space agency recently granted Clemson University scientists $200,000 to convert human stool into astronaut food. Basically, they figure what goes in must come out — and go in again. Blech.
Now, we've certainly heard of re-purposing animal poop for fertilizer, but feeding the astronauts recycled human poop just feels like a form of cruel and unusual punishment. In reality, though, the gag-inducing project — titled "Synthetic Biology for Recycling Human Waste into Food, Nutraceuticals, and Materials: Closing the Loop for Long-Term Space Travel" — could potentially reduce expenses associated with delivering supplies into outer space. Other cost-cutting efforts are already underway, with astronauts successfully growing and consuming vegetables in space.
A NASA press release read, "Technology drives exploration, and investments in these technologies and technologists is essential to ensure NASA and the nation have the capabilities necessary to meet the challenges we will face as we journey to Mars. The faculty selected and their colleagues help assure a robust university research community dedicated to advanced space technology development."
While this totally grosses us out, it also increases the respect we have for astronauts, who can now add poop consumption to the list of job-related dangers they face as brave space explorers.