Who's responsible for a turd that escapes from a zero gravity toilet? Bestselling author Mary Roach addresses this question and more in her new book "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void," and was happy to go into the specifics of turds in space when she spoke to Jon Stewart last night on The Daily Show. There is a large branch of NASA scientists dedicated to researching "what it's [actually] like to have people up there," Roach said. For example, she brought up the Waste Management Team, a group of people dedicated to making toilets work in space. Our toilets on Earth depend on gravity, and the lack of gravity in the atmosphere could cause a... messy situation. When testing the zero-gravity toilets, these scientists "pound the bran muffins on the way up" (according to Stewart), and then have to test if their toilet model works in twenty seconds on the way down.
Beyond turd management problems, space is "unforgiving and frustrating," Roach explained: people are confined in a small area for long periods of time, and the psychological toll of space on humans can be damaging. Perhaps the original idea of sending chimps to outer space in the place of humans, as Roach explains it, wouldn't have been so bad after all.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|