US space agency NASA has awarded a $200,000 (£127,600) a year grant to a project that intends to come up with a technology that will turn astronaut poo into food, fertilizer, supplements or other useful material.
Deep space travel is something that NASA is aiming at and while it is already funding different companies to create different technologies that will enable it to send humans to Mars, there are areas that still need to be addressed. One of the things is efficient use of edibles and water that astronauts will carry with them during manned missions.
A project dubbed “Synthetic Biology for Recycling Human Waste into Food, Nutraceuticals, and Materials: Closing the Loop for Long-Term Space Travel” is something along these lines and it intends to create a ‘closed loop’ system on a spacecraft itself that will convert astronauts’ waste into food, fertiliser, supplements or other useful materials for a long space flight.
The $200,000 a year grant has been approved for a maximum of three years and the project is being led by Mark Blenner of Clemson University, South Carolina.
NASA has already made quite astonishing progress as far as growing food in space is concerned. Just recently astronauts aboard the International Space Station tasted their first space-grown lettuce.