Can astronauts produce water in space?
Water can be created by burning hydrogen or by burning hydrocarbons like gasline, but we don't really create water to drink that way. Even on Earth, we just move around the water that's here!
The same thing happens on a space mission, except that there isn't any rain or rivers or lakes. Astronauts must bring along the water that they need.
To avoid having to bring so much, astronauts would like to be able to purify and recycle their waste water. One way to do that is to use the water to grow plants, so you can see how many of the goals of long-term spaceflight are inter-connected.
Astronauts on the International Space Station will wash with water collected from the air itself. This is water that has been exhaled in the astronauts' breath, and sweat that has evaporated off their bodies. That sounds kind of gross, but because the water is collected in vapor form, it's actually pretty clean--like rainwater! Other wastewater will be purified by filters for drinking and other uses.
Water is very heavy, which makes it expensive to launch it into space. Each drop that can be resued in orbit is important!
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- What do astronauts eat in space? Can they grow food?
- How do astronauts take baths and use restrooms in space?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 29577 times since June 12, 2002.
Last modified: November 1, 2002 4:29:22 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)