Today I got to float all the way back to ATV again, this time taking with me a big full tank of brine.
What is brine, you may ask? Let’s put it this way: brine is what is left over when we are done “transforming yesterday’s coffee into tomorrow’s coffee”, as fellow astronaut +Don Pettit
famously said (not sure if he was quoting somebody else!).
As you might know, we recycle urine onboard thanks to a facility called Urine Processing Assembly or UPA. You put urine from the toilet into UPA and you get two products out: one that will become potable water after some further work in the Water Recovery System and then the waste, a concentrate of all the stuff in your urine that you really don’t want to be part of your future cup.. ehm, pouch of coffee.
The brine is collected in the recycle tank: when this is full, we take it out and float it down to ATV to transfer it into one of the big liquid tanks - of course, once we’re done pumping out any water that might have been launched on ATV in that specific tank!
Only the toilet in Node 3 is directly connected to the Urine Processing Assembly. In the Service Module toilet, mostly used by our Russian crewmates, the urine is collected in a tank. Of course, for our water balance onboard we need to process that urine as well, so periodically some full urine tanks will materialize in a temporary stowage location in Node 1 and we will progressively transfer the urine to the UPA.
If you’re one of those who find this somewhat disturbing or even disgusting, try to look at it this way: our spaceship Earth is, among many other things, a giant UPA. We’re just not used to think about the previous history of those molecules of water in our drink: wouldn’t make much sense, would it? On ISS we don’t think about it either!
By the way, I have to plead guilty and admit that I have not contributed to the water balance at all today. But it’s for a good reason: science! I am doing a 24-hour urine collection, so we’ll have to detract from our onboard water all my filled tubes, frozen in the Melfi freezer by now. It’s one of those things that you’re a bit nervous about the first time, because it’s easy to make a mess in weightlessness, but I’m happy to say that it turned out to be smooth and easy!
Futura mission website (Italian): Avamposto42avamposto42.esa.int
* * #Futura42
(Trad IT) Traduzione in italiano a cura di +AstronautiCAST
(Trad FR) Traduction en français par +Anne Cpamoa
(Trad ES - Currently not updated) Tradducción en español aquí:http://www.intervidia.com/category/bitacora