Compared to NASA, is the European Space Agency p-ss poor?
Maybe take that and flip it to rich — the agency’s got an idea, and if you’re a moon-occupation enthusiast, urine for a real treat.
On Friday, the ESA fingered the perfect ingredient in its mix of “lunar concrete” needed for construction on that big chunk o’ cheese in the night sky.
As it turns out, it’s pee — or, at least, urea: the primary organic compound found in liquid human waste.
As reported by HuffPost, that homemade golden gush so prominent on Earth “could one day become a useful [part] in making concrete to build on the moon.”
In a recent ESA-sponsored study, researchers found that urea would make the lunar cement more malleable ’til it hardens.
It’s handy (at least for men), and it’s economically advantageous as well:
[The study] noted that using only materials available on site for a moon base or other construction would reduce the need to launch supplies from Earth.
Ever pee in a radiator in time of need? Who’d’ve thought sojourners in spaceships might similarly take care of business in a flash? Or, splash?
But it makes perfect sense — I assume planetary treks back and forth can run up quite a bill. Why shuttle supplies when you can just unzip your suit and you’re golden? Literally.
And another component the agency needs is already there waiting:
The main ingredient in “lunar concrete” would be a powdery soil found on the moon’s surface known as lunar regolith. ESA said urea, which can break hydrogen bonds and reduce the viscosity of fluid mixtures, would limit the amount of water necessary in the recipe.
If you were curious as to how much of a future-friendly cement-making machine you are, here are the juicy details:
“Thanks to future lunar inhabitants, the 1.5 liters (3.2 pints) of liquid waste a person generates each day could become a promising by-product for space exploration,” [the agency] said in a statement.
The space-spackling won’t mark the first time pee’s been used to benefit mankind. In addition to being utilized as an industrial fertilizer, it’s implemented by chemical and even medical companies.
Marlies Arnhof — co-author of the European Space Agency study — waxed on the organization’s watery wish:
“The hope is that astronaut urine could be essentially used as it is on a…lunar base, with minor adjustments to the water content. This is very practical, and avoids the need to further complicate the sophisticated water recycling systems in space.”
So there ya go.
The unconventional employment’s an inspiring reminder: When you’ve set upon a dream to do what no one’s done before, sometimes what you need is already there inside you.
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