Researchers at Clemson University are experimenting with human feces. As part of a program that selected eight University projects to fund in the coming years, researchers at the South Carolina college were allocated $200,000 a year to investigate the possibility of turning human feces into food for astronauts.

The project, aptly named “Synthetic Biology for Recycling Human Waste into Food, Nutraceuticals, and Materials: Closing the Loop for Long-Term Space Travel” (catchy!), will try to provide astronauts with some variety in their diet. This is a good thing, since one might assume that, as of now, their diet consists mostly of space lettuce, freeze-dried strawberries, and Dippin’ Dots.

space petri dishes
Photo: NASA

Despite shutting down its active shuttle program in 2011, NASA has still been working towards manned missions to Mars on commercial space shuttles, which is made possible by a lot of money and revolutionary ideas like turning human poop into food. Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, explains,

“Technology drives exploration, and investments in these technologies and technologists is essential to ensure NASA and the nation have the capabilities necessary to meet the challenges we will face as we journey to Mars.” 

In addition to helping astronauts, the technology needed to turn poop into food will be important to have once we live in a post-apocalyptic WaterWorld situation in 20 years or so.

[via NASA]