The Floating Poop Mystery That Has Haunted NASA Since 1969


The astronauts on NASA’s Apollo 10 mission in May 1969 paved the way for a pivotal moment in human history. But in the process, they introduced an entirely new kind of space exploration mystery. 

Apollo 10 served as a test run for Apollo 11's historic moon landing two months later. NASA went through all the same motions and procedures as the landing would require, but came just short of actually touching down on the lunar surface. The three astronauts onboard helped NASA understand the issues that might arise during the real lunar landing. Such as: What happens when a turd floats through the spacecraft? 

It was day six of the mission. Commander Tom Stafford noticed it first. “Oh—who did it?” he asked, laughing. “Who did it?”

“Give me a napkin quick,” he told the others. “There’s a turd floating through the air.”

Screenshot via NASA

Talk quickly turned to whose poop it could be, resulting in a pretty hilarious chorus of “not me!”

“I didn’t do it. It ain’t one of mine,” said command module pilot John Young. Lunar module pilot Eugene Cernan claimed, “I don’t think it’s one of mine,” while Stafford was more specific in his denials. “Mine was a little more sticky than that,” he told the others.

Figuring out how astronauts could answer nature’s call was a major challenge NASA had to face if it wanted to keep astronauts in space for more than a few hours. Unfortunately for space travelers trapped in close quarters, the human body experiences “decreased gastrointestinal transit time” in weightless conditions—meaning astronauts go more in space. These days, astronauts on the International Space Station have a vacuum-powered toilet equipped with a seat belt. In the early days of space travel, there were no such luxuries. 

In 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard—the first American to travel into space—spent five hours waiting for his 15-minute long Freedom 7 flight. He ended up having to pee in his space suit—something NASA had not prepared for. Later, they added waste collection devices [PDF], but they weren’t foolproof. In 1963, several systems within astronaut Gordon Cooper’s Project Mercury capsule failed due to a leaky urine bag. (To reduce the need to pass solid waste during the Mercury missions, astronauts were fed a special low-fiber diet for the three days before launch.)

An early fecal collection device for astronauts. Image Credit: NASA

But of course, everybody needs to poop eventually. During the longer Apollo missions, astronauts essentially had to use an adhesive plastic bag they could attach to their butt. A germicidal tablet inside killed bacteria to prevent gasses from building up inside the bag.

“In all cases, the primary problem has been the separation, in a weightless environment, of the fecal wastes from the crewmen,” NASA wrote in an analysis of the Apollo fecal collection system in 1972 [PDF]. With no gravity, it’s hard to get your poop away from your body, and it came with a “finger cot” (like a condom for the finger) to help move the poop into the bag. The bag was not popular with astronauts: “Nothing has proved more effective than the current system, which has proved adequate for all flights, although the crewmen have expressed dislike for it.”

As to who unleashed the Apollo 10’s mysterious turd, none of the astronauts on board copped to it. “Well, babe, if it was me, I sure would know I was s****ing on the floor,” Cernan said. The other astronauts continued to claim their own bowel movements were too sticky to be the offender, as evidenced by their experiences with the beloved finger cot. Who really unleashed the Apollo 10 poop rocket, we may never know.

Once NASA astronauts did touch down on the moon, of course, they elected to leave their bags of feces there. Go ahead and search “turd” in the Apollo 10 transcripts to find more astronaut poop jokes.

[h/t: Vox]

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More


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Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.


Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances


- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games


- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets


- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs


- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

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Don't Miss Saturn And Jupiter's Great Conjunction on the Winter Solstice

Paul Williams, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Paul Williams, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

In 2020, skygazers were treated to meteor showers, a new comet, and a Halloween blue moon. One of the last major astronomical events of the year is set to fall on the night of the winter solstice. On December 21, look up to catch Saturn in conjunction with Jupiter.

What is the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter?

In astronomy, a conjunction occurs when two planets appear exceptionally close in the night sky. Two of our solar system's gas giants will share a celestial "kiss" on the longest night of the year. The rare meeting of Saturn and Jupiter is known as the "great conjunction" by astronomers.

Though conjunctions between the planets are fairly common, Saturn and Jupiter only get together once in a generation. Their last conjunction happened 20 years ago in the year 2000. Even if you were around for the last one, 2020's planetary meet-up is worth catching. Saturn and Jupiter will come within 0.1° of each other, or about one-fifth the width of a full moon. The last time the two planets came that close was in 1653, and they won't match that proximity again until 2080.

How to see the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter

Saturn and Jupiter have been inching closer throughout October and November. You can find them now by looking for Jupiter, currently the brightest planet in the night sky, right after sunset. Saturn will appear just east of Jupiter as a dimmer planet with a golden hue.

As autumn wanes, the two planets will gradually bridge the space between them until they reach conjunction on winter solstice. On Monday, December 21, the planets will be so close that they may form a coalescence. That happens when the light from two planets appear to shine as a single star. When that happens, the super-bright body will be easy to spot.