"As NASA astronauts prepare to set their boots on the Moon in 2024, we're turning to the global network of problem solvers to design the next-generation lunar toilet", said Mike Interbartolo, project manager for the Lunar Loo Challenge in the HLS Crew Compartment Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center. "The process for using proposed toilet designs must be relatively straightforward", the agency said in a statement.
The top prize is $20,000 and the second and third place winners will get $10,000 and $5,000.
If you think you have the skills and brain power to come up with what NASA is looking for, you have until August 17 to submit your toilet.
'Designing and developing new lunar toilets may not be as exciting or intriguing as developing tools to support the exploration of the lunar surface, but the need is just as important, ' NASA said.
Including astronauts, who have since the early space era found ways to do their business in near-zero gravity - from the Apollo missions when waste management was, in Nasa's words, "a plastic bag which was taped to the buttocks to capture feces", to the more advanced toilets of the International Space Station that use fan-driven suction systems.
NASA's Artemis Moon mission will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024. It also requires to use less than 70 watts of electrical power and make a lot less noise than an ordinary rest room admirer.
Space will also be an issue, so the toilet must weigh less than 33 kilograms on Earth and be less than 0.12 cubic meters in volume.
How would a space toilet like?Selected designs may be modified for integration into Artemis lunar landers.
Any designs that are submitted must align with NASA's overall goals of reducing mass and lowering power consumption - they also have to be easy to maintain. The current options are only designed for International Space Station (ISS), where there is no gravity. What it does have to accommodate is an environment with a sixth of Earth's gravity.
Lunar surface gravity isn't the nearly absolute lack of gravity you see on the ISS, but it's just a fraction of what keeps us down on the home planet because the moon has less mass.