A group from Penn State University (who worked on this specific project with NASA) have come up with a way in which astronauts will soon be able to convert their own excreta into an edible substance.
As the space trips take a lot of time, it becomes difficult to take along too much food. Even though it may sound weird, it definitely will save a lot of space and effort to take edibles along on the journey. The process involves mixing human waste with microbes, which break down the waste to create a paste which is fit for consumption.
Christopher House, professor of geosciences at Penn State commented on this recent discovery by saying, “It’s a little strange but the concept would be a little bit like Marmite or Vegemite where you’re eating a smear of ‘microbial goo.’” House added,“ Anaerobic digestion is something we use frequently on Earth for treating waste,” said House.
“It’s an efficient way of getting mass treated and recycled. What was novel about our work was taking the nutrients out of that stream and intentionally putting them into a microbial reactor to grow food.” NASA’s mission to Mars and other planets, which take a lot of time, and cutting down on the amount of food which are packed for these trips will prove beneficial.
Even though NASA has been working towards growing plants and vegetables in space through hydroponics, nothing has materialised yet.
Eating one’s own excreta seems to be a much easier thing to do presently.