(WBIR-Knoxville) Students at the L&N STEM Academy promise their high school experiment will not be a waste.
Sophomores Sarah Sellers, Ethan Fawver, junior Thomas-Allan Disow, and senior Henry Gertsen are part of a team asking how fast something decomposes in zero gravity. That something: feces.
"People are eventually going to be dying in space and well, people are already defecating in space so we might as well handle that," Fawver said.
Originally, the group wanted to see if human flesh, specifically a finger, would decompose in space. They quickly realized getting a severed human finger is easier said than done, so they went to questioning human waste.
The group proposed the experiment to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education "Waste in Space: Exploring the Effect of Microgravity on the Rate of Decomposition of Corn Starch by Rid-X."
It was accepted and in October will be put on the International Space Station.
The group showed a tube that will be used in the experiment.
"On one end, we have the Rid X, we have a very minute amount of it," Fawver explained. "We will have corn starch in a liquefied solution, 'human waste' because it's organic."
The students' teacher, David Hawkins, admitted the test would get some giggles from other students, but says the experiment could be important in the future.
"As the population of the Space Station grows, and as we look to colonize space, you have to think about ways of dealing with waste in space," Hawkins said.
The experiment will be part of the Mission 6 program, slated to launch around October 21, and will land in early 2015.