Astronauts onboard a privately-funded expedition to Mars in 2018 will use their own feces to protect themselves against cosmic radiation.
The couple during the Inspiration Mars mission, funded by multimillionaire Dennis Tito, and set to fly-by the Red Planet in 2018 will face cramped conditions, muscle atrophy and potential boredom.
However, their greatest health risk comes from exposure to the radiation from cosmic rays, ‘New Scientist’ reported.
The project will develop a radiation shield for the spacecraft by lining its walls with human waste, among other materials.
“It’s a little queasy sounding, but there’s no place for that material to go, and it makes great radiation shielding,” said Taber MacCallum, a member of the team funded by Tito who announced the audacious plan earlier.
Solid and liquid human waste products would be put into bags and used as a radiation shield – as well as being dehydrated so that any water can be recycled for drinking, McCallum said.
“Dehydrate them as much as possible, because we need to get the water back,” he said.
“Those solid waste products get put into a bag, put right back against the wall,” said MacCallum, adding food too could be used as a radiation shield.
“Food is going to be stored all around the walls of the spacecraft, because food is good radiation shielding,” he said.
This would not be dangerous as the food would merely be blocking the radiation, it would not become a radioactive source, the report said.
Water has long been suggested as a shielding material for interplanetary space missions.
“Water is better than metals for protection,” said Marco Durante of the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany.
That is because nuclei are the things that block cosmic rays, and water molecules, made of three small atoms, contain more nuclei per volume than a metal.