An answer and a comment on a related question, got me wondering. What would happen if you tried to use a bidet to clean up after doing your business without gravity.

Water does not behave in space the same as it does on Earth. Could a bidet be used to clean up without making a mess in the ISS?

Watch Water Become Zero-Grav Jello on the International Space Station - ICTMN.com Water

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps if the water were warmed up to reduce it's surface tension ... ? $\endgroup$ – Everyone Mar 3 '15 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ How much impact does a few degrees have on the surface tension? I was also thinking about managing the free floating water. In the video that goes with the image, there is ongoing water recovery during the demo. $\endgroup$ – James Jenkins Mar 3 '15 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ I'd heat it so it is distinctly hot without being so hot it may scald; that would be a score or thereabouts. The relationship is almost linear ... better than linear if the water contains impurities. $\endgroup$ – Everyone Mar 4 '15 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ The picture frightens me for some reason; water is scary stuff in zero gee. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 17 at 3:16

A bidet can be used in micro-gravity, if you isolate the lower torso with a velcro-fitted cover and employ a vacuum hose to recover spent water.

However, this is rather inefficient in terms of water and electricity consumption. All of the water would be considered wastewater/"grey" water and will have to go through a series of filters and tanks/canisters. Considering the (substantial) burden of managing toilets aboard the ISS, this would reduce crew time available for science. Wet wipes are more cost-effective right now.

In terms of engineering required, a functioning bidet will be akin to a working shower. A shower, a bidet, re-usable washable garments and more comfortable ways of urinating and taking a dump are the basic elements of ECLSS of the future, where humans won't have to endure space travel but to live and relish it.


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