Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
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How will we travel to another star?

Proxima Centauri, our closest star, is more than 4 light years away. Reaching it under 10,000 years will be challenging; reaching it with living humans will be even harder.

NASA
  • Eventually, humanity will want to travel to a new solar system to propagate the human race, explore, and maybe find signs of alien life.
  • But our closest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, is so far away that current methods could take tens of thousands of years.
  • How will we surmount this incredible distance and the other challenges associated with interstellar travel?
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Inside China's plan to put an 'artificial moon' in orbit

By 2022, there may be as many as three artificial moons floating above the city of Chengdu.

Photo by Schubert Ciencia via Flickr/Big Think
  • Chinese state media announced plans to put an artificial moon in orbit by 2020.
  • Just like the real moon, the artificial moon will reflect sunlight onto the Earth in order to cut down on electricity consumption.
  • If the mission is a success, there are plans to launch three other artificial moons in 2022.
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Space X Releases Shocking Blooper Reel: How Not to Land a Rocket

"Well, technically it did land... just not in once piece."

Footage still: Space X

The fear of failure is one of the most common, and crippling, fears there is. While most of us only have to fear being embarrassed at karaoke night or maybe fumbling some words during a short presentation, other people are faced with operating millions of dollars’ worth of equipment on a regular basis. For them, failure means a little more than it might mean to us. While the film Apollo 13 made us think that for NASA “Failure is not an option,” for others, it remains an ever-present possibility.

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