NASA, an institution renowned for its commitment to transparency and scientific integrity, has unintentionally unveiled a surprising aspect of astronauts’ daily routines – monitoring their bathroom breaks. A peculiar discovery from an analyst investigating security systems sheds light on an obscure data feed directly from the International Space Station (ISS), revealing the status of the station’s urine tank and much more.
The Anonymous Analyst’s Findings:
The anonymous analyst, operating under the pseudonym Gi7w0rm, inadvertently stumbled upon a wealth of information while scrutinising government systems for security vulnerabilities. Among the treasure trove of data was real-time feedback on the ISS’s urine tank levels, providing a unique insight into astronauts’ toilet habits. Gi7w0rm also unearthed details regarding the processor unit responsible for converting urine into potable water for spacefarers.
A Wealth of Metrics:
The data extended beyond urine-related trivia, encompassing a plethora of metrics. These included monitoring carbon dioxide (CO2) levels within the ISS, maintaining a comfortable cabin temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, scrutinising airlock pressure, and even keeping tabs on the number of laptops connected to the station’s network.
In an interview with New Scientist, a sister publication of Metro.co.uk, Gi7w0rm admitted to being “not necessarily surprised but definitely amused” by this discovery. They humorously remarked, “You don’t always get to watch astronauts pee.” Furthermore, Gi7w0rm raised concerns about the data’s security implications and promptly flagged it as a potential breach.
A Remarkable Water Recycling Process:
While the idea of drinking recycled urine might raise eyebrows, NASA emphasised that the final product is far superior to what municipal water systems produce on Earth. Manager of the water subsystems for the ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support System), Jill Williamson, described, “The water that the crew is drinking has been purified to a higher standard than the water we consume on Earth, so they are not ingesting urine.”
This inadvertent revelation sheds light on the meticulous monitoring and unique challenges faced by astronauts aboard the ISS. While the idea of tracking urine levels may seem amusing, it underscores NASA’s dedication to ensuring the well-being of its spacefarers and the efficiency of its systems.