We are deadly serious here. Some shooting stars are astronaut poop. That’s right, you read it here first. It now seems that not all of the hurtling hot pieces of bright lights that we see streaking across the night sky are meteors at all. In fact, you may have actually been wishing upon a turd (no wonder my wishes never come true). So how is it that we know that some shooting star are astronaut poop?
Col. Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency explains in the video shown below. Basically, for those who don’t want to watch the video, it all comes down to the mechanics, physics and waste disposal system used in space.
As we know, in space there is very little gravity, which can become a problem when it comes to bathroom breaks. Here on Earth, when you take a poop or wee, gravity takes care of the waste, and a flush sends it all on its way so it’s no longer your problem to deal with. Let someone else take care of that business. Your job ended with the flush and air spray. In space things are somewhat more difficult, all thanks to a lack of gravity.
Imagine being in the ISS and needing to go to the bathroom. You drop your pants, somehow sit on a toilet, and do your business. Without gravity it all becomes very messy. Very messy indeed. While urine is easily managed, the much more smelly, filthy solid waste is a tad bit harder to deal with. The solution, according to Col. Hadfield, is to use air and vacuums. Now comes the fun part.
The solid waste is exposed to the vacuum of space and freeze dries, resulting in all of the nasty bacteria being killed off. Next it is stored in containers, until enough of the waste is in storage to jettison it off and away from the space station. All that is left of the astronaut poop now is to become a shooting star when re-entering the Earths atmosphere.