We all know how important it is to conserve water — especially living in Southern California — but who would go as far as recycling urine, perspiration and even condensation from your very breath for a refreshing glass of water?
For those living on the International Space Station and for missions to Mars and beyond, every drop matters — literally.
“The cost of sending one liter of water to space is about $20,000,” explained Barbie Buckner, Educator Professional Development Specialist at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. “The average American uses 80 gallons a day. A crew of three on the ISS uses three gallons a day. That’s pretty conservative.”
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Office of Education, in partnership with the AERO Institute, offers educator professional development workshops on a monthly basis.
As part of NASA’s education outreach, teachers were recently shown videos on how NASA’s Environmental Control and Life Support System works to provide the ISS with water and air. The ISS is about as long as one football field and has had a crew living on board since 2000.
NASA’s fleet of satellites, its airborne missions and researchers address some of the critical challenges facing our planet today and in the future: climate change, sea level rise, freshwater resources and extreme weather events. Teachers at the workshop learned how research projects such as CalWater and Operation IceBridge are occurring in their own backyard at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center.
“Only one percent of our water on Earth is usable and accessible,” said Buckner. “Ninety-seven percent is in the oceans, three percent is fresh water but out of that, two percent is locked into glaciers — only one percent is usable and accessible.”
Research used to help space exploration is also benefiting the earth-bound by innovating ways to help conserve and recycle water. So far, about 93 percent of astronaut’s water usage is recyclable; however, for missions deeper into space the number needs to be closer to 99 percent.
Teachers engaged in hands-on, standards-aligned mathematics, science and engineering activities that allowed them to create, build, and test a water filtration device. Just in time for Earth Science Week, Oct 9-15, teachers were shown several ways they can teach their students to recycle dirty water by using water bottles, coffee filters, charcoal, rice and other materials.
“We enjoy coming to these classes and are very thankful for NASA,” said Alice Wang, a robotics coach from Christ Bridge Academy, a Christian school in Azusa. “Barbie is such a great teacher and inspires us to bring that knowledge and fun to our classrooms.”
The next workshop is scheduled for 4:30-6 p.m., Oct. 19 at NASA Armstrong Educator Resource Center at the AERO Institute, 38256 Sierra Hwy., Palmdale, CA 93550. Participants will learn about the Deep Space Atomic Clock. For more information, call Sondra Geddes at 661-276-2359 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.