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The Space Poop Challenge – NASA Is Offering $30,000 to Whoever Solves the Problem of Pooping in Space

When you gotta go, you gotta go! But what if you’re in space, stuck in a spacesuit for hours on end, even days? The current solution is the good ol’ diaper, but NASA is looking for something better, and is offering a prize of up to $30,000 to whoever comes up with the best idea.

Astronauts have access to some of the world’s most advanced technologies, but when it comes to human waste management, they rely on a diaper. NASA spacecrafts do feature more advanced waste systems, but they can only be used when the astronauts aren’t wearing their space suits. So during launches, landings, or in case of emergencies, they have to put on an uncomfortable space diaper. But that is only a temporary solution, as keeping the waste so close to the skin for longer than a few hours can lead to infection, and even sepsis. NASA’s scientists have apparently been unable to come up with a solution to this problem, and the agency is now looking to the rest of the world for suggestions. The newly launched Space Poop Challenge give anyone the chance to submit their ideas and designs for an alternative to the space diaper until December 20, for the chance to win up to $30,000.

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The Mysterious Condition Impairing Astronauts’ Eyesight

All astronauts have perfect eyesight before traveling to outer space, but some years ago medical tests revealed that their vision is severely impaired when they return. The exact cause of this problem is yet to be determined.

In 2005, about halfway through his mission working on the International Space Station, astronaut John Phillips looked out the window at Earth and noticed something strange. Although his vision had always been perfect, our planet seemed blurry and he had problem focusing on it. He didn’t report his problem to ground control thinking it was just temporary and would go away after a while, only it didn’t. When he returned to Earth, rigorous tests revealed that his eyesight had gone from 20/20 to 20/100.

To shed some light on this issue, NASA put Phillips through a series of procedures, including MRIs, retinal scans, neurological tests and a spinal tap. They found that not only had his vision deteriorated, but his eyes had changed as well – his optic nerves were inflamed, the back of his eyes had become flatter and his eyeballs had choroidal folds, which are like stretch marks. After six months, Phillips’ eyesight improved to 20/50, but remained there for the last 11 years. He went from being the guy with the best vision, the first one in the car to read a street sign to not being able to pass a DMV exam without glasses.

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