5 NASA Projects You Wish You Learned About In School

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You’ve probably heard about the Rosetta mission by now. The European Space Agency was able to land a probe on a comet that was travelling thousands of miles per hour through space, a mission that was more than 10 years in the making.

Big fucking deal.

You haven’t heard anything cool NASA has done, or has been doing these past years in a long, long time. I think it’s about time that we teach you about a few of the lesser known NASA missions. You’d be surprised how few NASA projects get any sort of media attention. For example: Did you know that in 1979, debris from NASA’s Space Station “Skylab” crashed into a small town in Western Australia? The town tried to fine NASA $400, but NASA never paid. NASA probably sent the town a letter saying ‘You can’t fine us, we’ve been to the moon. Bitch.’

…Anyway, here are some of the lesser known NASA projects!

1) NASA plans to grow plants on the moon in 2015
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Last year, NASA announced plans to grow plants on the moon late into the year 2015, in a project that was designed to help our chance of actually colonising space.

The project is called the “Lunar Plant Growth Habitat,” and the main reason scientists want to grow plants on the moon is that if a plant can thrive in a certain environment, then humans might be able to live there as well.

Scientists, contractors, and students, are working together to create a small 1kg “self-contained habitat” containing seeds and germination material to send to the moon. In order to get the seeds to the moon, NASA is going to deliver the payload by hitchhiking on a spacecraft being entered in the Google Lunar X Prize.

The plants, a tough as shit species of plant called Arabidopsis, have enough water and oxygen to last them a few days. Cameras and sensors are monitoring the plants, and will send data back to Earth where scientists can make sense of whatever those plants are experiencing.

So, why are scientists only trying to grow plants on the moon now? It’s cheap. 20 years ago, this project would have cost NASA $300 Million. This year, the project will only take NASA $2 Million to complete it. You know, pocket change.

 

2) NASA is funding a 3D pizza printer for their astronauts
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Earlier in the year, NASA pushed through a research grant to develop a prototype 3D printer for food, so that astronauts may enjoy the finer delicacies of Earth while exploring the great unknown.

More specifically, Anjan Contractor, a senior mechanical engineer at Systems and Materials Research Corporation, received the $125,000 grant from NASA to build a prototype of his food printer. NASA became interested in this food printer after realizing it could be used to feed astronauts during a 520 day trip to Mars.

In order to preserve the food for so long, Anjan Contractor told reporters that “The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years.”

Anjan has already successfully printed chocolate. However, he is now aiming to create a more complex meal, aka pizza, so he is working diligently with his team to create a more advanced prototype.

The printer will work by first printing out a sheet of dough, then a layer of tomato sauce, and instead of regular toppings, a layer of protein will be added on top of the sauce, which can be taken from either plants, milk, or animals.

Yum.

 

3) NASA will pay you $17,000 to lay in bed for 3 months straight
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The days of slaving day in and day out in a fast food restaurant in order to pay off your student loans are over. Now, thanks to the almighty being that is NASA, you can make $17,000 for literally lying down in bed for 3 months…straight.

The Bed Rest Study takes place in the Human Test Subject Facility of Johnson Space Center, which sounds both terrifying and horrendous.

Basically, when astronauts return from space, their bodies start behaving in weird ways because their body is having trouble adapting back to Earth’s gravity. It can often take astronauts months to adapt back to Earth’s gravity, and scientists want to start studying the effects of different gravity for prolonged periods on our bodies.

The test will involve you lying in bed for 90 days, however you will be out of bed a few times to take specific tests. Your head will be tilted downward, and your feet will be slightly elevated. Yes, you can play video games and watch all the Netflix you want. You will spend 16 hours in a bright room staying awake, and 8 hours asleep.

According to the official website, you can apply here, but “You’ll have to pass the Air Force medical examination standards and take a blood test, which we assume means that you won’t have any help from recreational drugs to alleviate the boredom of lying prone for 2,160 hours.”

 

4) NASA had to rename the sizes for their penis sleeves used while urinating because astronauts with small wieners kept putting on the wrong size
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The male ego is fragile. Everyone knows that men can be a little sensitive when it comes to what their pants are packing. No matter how smart a man is, or where he is on this planet, or even where he is outside of the planet, he will always be a little shy about his dick size if he isn’t gifted in that department. NASA found this out the hard way.

You see, it’s a little difficult to take a piss in space. As a result, astronauts are fitted with Maximum Absorbency Garments, aka diapers. Part of these garments involve a perforated condom attached to a bag. Initially, the sizes for the condom were “Small, Medium, Large” but NASA discovered this was an issue, because no man would report that his penis was ‘small.’ This resulted in the condom not fitting onto a man’s Johnson, and him pissing on himself.

NASA, being the genius bastards that they are, renamed the sizes to “Extra-Large, Immense, Heroic/Large, Gigantic, and Humongous.”

It would feel a little weird asking for an extra-large though. You’re not fooling anyone. Everyone knows that’s still the smallest size. I guess it just make you feel a little bit better about your needle-dick.

 

5) NASA named a treadmill on the space station after Stephen Colbert
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It all started with NASA holding an online competition, asking the general public what they should name a room or “node” at the space station. To the surprise of NASA, write-in voters continuously submitted the name “Colbert”, which ultimately ended up beating NASA’s four suggested options: Serenity, Legacy, Earthrise, and Venture.

However, a few days after it was revealed that the room was supposed to be named after Colbert, Sunita Williams announced on The Colbert Report that NASA would not name the node after Colbert. Instead, they decided to name it Tranquility, the eighth popular name in the competition.

To make Colbert feel a little bit better about the situation, NASA said that they were going to name a treadmill used for exercising in space after Colbert. The treadmill, officially called the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, was really just a clever way to create the acronym, COLBERT.

Treadmills are incredibly useful to astronauts, as they ensure that their muscles and bones don’t weaken while in space. In fact, in 2007, Sunita Williams used a treadmill in space to run a marathon at the exact same time the Boston marathon was taking place.

[Header image via Shutterstock, sources listed here]

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