TECH

What Happens When You Fart In Space?

20/01/2016 15:57 GMT | Updated 20/01/2016 17:59 GMT

British astronaut Tim Peake's latest video has answered one very important question we have about missions - how do you go to the loo in space?

The Major took time out of his busy schedule to walk earthlings through the International Space Station's toilet.

tim peake

In the video, Peake began explaining how two different outlets work - one for the fluids and one for, well - the solids. Doesn't look comfortable.

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This got us thinking about the other little things we take for granted on planet Earth. For example, the joy (or discomfort) of passing wind.

Thankfully the internet has already thought of this question and come up with a few interesting points about the not-so-appealing process. Hint: if you're eating you may not want to continue reading this.

Assuming you've put your sandwich down, here are five fart facts:

1. It doesn't move

“If you fart in zero G, you have a major problem," said Derrick Pitts from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, US.

Speaking to tech blog, Geekadelphia, he explained: "If you fart...the gas stays right there. It doesn’t go anywhere.

"It hovers right around there.”

2. Farting in your astronaut suit is not the worst thing

Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA, assured Quora readers that "it happens."

Thankfully, he also added that astronaut suits are equipped with what's known as a LiOH filter to remove toxic gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

3. Those gases could be quite deadly

Two years ago, a scientific paper published in 1969 came to light showing off the dangers of farting in space.

The study analysed the farts from a group who were put on a space diet with a group who were fed bland foods.

What they found is that those who were fed the space diet produced gasses that were more flammable than the control group.

According to Discover Magazine, "intestinal bacteria form two gases, hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4), that could constitute a fire hazard in a closed chamber."

Well, the ISS is definitely a closed chamber. Again, we are thankful for the filters.

4. No, you can't propel yourself around the ISS on farts

In 2012 a Reddit AMA with retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield, burst the bubble of curiosity around this question.

"We all tried it," he said. "too muffled, not the right type of propulsive nozzle :)"

The internet was happy.

5. Fart emails were an actual thing aboard the ISS

In July, NASA astronaut Clayton C. Anderson told an interesting story that will probably stick with you next time you open an email.

Posting on Quora, he noted:

"...my gas could be quite stinky... just ask a few of my crew members! So much so, that one of my spacewalking (EVA) partners --who shall remain nameless-- often gave me clear verbal indications that my gas was aromatic and not in a good way.

"It was after repeated verbal jousting that he and I, alone in the quiet confines of the space shuttle middeck, noted the large air hose positioned above the area leading to the shuttle/ISS docking tunnel."

"Hoping to keep aromas in the middeck at a more tolerable level, I utilised the fact that we were weightless to lift myself --rear end pointing toward the hose-- to the ceiling and "fire away."

"If that isn't enough," he added, "we started referring to these events as "sending emails" to the ISS.

We're sorry for ruining emails for you.