A group of scientists from Penn State has come up with a way to solve the billion dollar dilemma faced by astronauts during space trips; What will the astronauts eat and where will they dispose the poop? This team of researchers at the Penn State are working on a plan which will help to grow something edible using poop and bacteria, and it becomes a success, then the problem of poop disposal and the scarcity of food will be solved forever.
The researchers have found a number of bacteria species which have the capability to grow into an edible and nutritious substance. Scientists have also formulated a way to obtain the energy for bacterial growth in deep space missions. With the help of some other bacterial species, human feces can be easily converted into methane. Later, methane can be used to transform the edible bacteria into a food source.
"We envisioned and tested the concept of simultaneously treating astronauts' waste with microbes while producing a biomass that is edible either directly or indirectly depending on safety concerns. 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," said Christopher House, professor of geosciences, Penn State, Spaceref reports.
Making things more clear, astronauts who are in deep space mission will never eat the poop directly. Instead, the poop they excrete will be used as an energy source to feed edible bacteria, which will later emerge as a nutritious food source.
At this juncture, readers might think about the practicalities of carrying edible food from the earth to space. Of course, astronauts can carry food during space missions, but food takes up a lot of weight, and it will result in higher cost and fuel consumption.
The astronauts can also make use of a sophisticated hydroponic setup to grow foods, but it will cost billions. The concept of growing edible bacteria with the help of human poop is undoubtedly one of the best solutions to address this problem.