Watch: What Apollo-era diapers can teach us about the origins of life.
Human feces can be disgusting, but it’s also teeming with life. Around 50 percent of its mass is made up of bacteria, representing some of the 1,000-plus species of microbes that live in our guts. In a piece of poop lives a whole wondrous ecosystem.
With the Apollo 11 moon landing, astronauts took that microbial life to the most extreme environment it has ever been in. Which means the human feces on the moon — along with bags of urine, food waste, vomit, and other waste that also might contain microbial life — represents a natural, though unintended, experiment.
The question the experiment will answer: How resilient is life in the face of the brutal environment of the moon? And for that matter, if microbes can survive on the moon, can they survive interstellar travel, making them capable of seeding life across the universe, including on places like Mars?
To learn more, check out the video above on our YouTube channel. Or read our feature story: Apollo astronauts left their poop on the moon. We gotta go back for that shit.