There’s Poop on the Moon

by Jason Major on February 2, 2013

When the Apollo boys visited the Moon back in the ’60s and ’70s they left more than just some experiments, rovers, and family portraits behind –- they also left, shall we say, a little bit of themselves on the lunar surface. It makes total sense when you think about it, but still… there’s poop on the Moon.

moon toiletIn this video, Minute Physics and Destin from Smarter Every Day show how astronauts would relieve themselves during the Apollo missions (or at least the gadgets they used — we all know how they did it) and why it was decided to make astronaut poop a permanent part of their lunar litter.

(Because there’s no public toilets in the Sea of Tranquility.)

In another video Destin goes on to discuss some of the other things the Apollo astronauts left on the lunar surface as part of their… duties… most notably the Laser Ranging Retroreflectors that are still being used today to measure distances between Earth and the Moon. Destin explains how their corner-cube reflectors work — using, fittingly, the mirrors in a restroom shared with NASA at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Check out the video below.

According to the Lunar and Planetary Institute: “The Laser Ranging Retroreflector experiment has produced many important measurements. These include an improved knowledge of the Moon’s orbit and the rate at which the Moon is receding from Earth (currently 3.8 centimeters per year) and of variations in the rotation of the Moon. These variations in rotation are related to the distribution of mass inside the Moon and imply the existence of a small core, with a radius of less than 350 kilometers, somewhat smaller than the limits imposed by the passive seismic and magnetometer experiments. These measurements have also improved our knowledge of changes of the Earth’s rotation rate and the precession of its spin axis and have been used to test Einstein’s theory of relativity.”

Want to see how corner-cube reflectors work? Click here.

laser_rr_lg

The Laser Ranging Retroreflector experiment deployed on Apollo 11 (NASA)

Just goes to show that not everything that got left behind was crap.

See more videos from Destin at Smarter Every Day here and more Minute Physics here.

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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