Mars accumulates more than seven tons of human garbage

Debris on Mars comes from three main sources. Photo: NASA

the surface of Mars houses more than seven tons of garbage from half a century of robotic exploration of the red planet.

The calculation has been obtained by Cagri Kilic, Postdoctoral researcher in Robotics at the University of West Virginiabased on the analysis of the 18 objects made by humans destined for Mars on 14 separate missions, according to data from the Outer Space Office of United Nations.

When the mass of all the spacecraft that have ever been sent to Mars, you get about 9 979 kilos. Subtracting the weight of the ships currently operating on the surface, which is 2,860 kilos, a total of 7,119 kilos of human waste in Mars.

The debris in Mars they come from three main sources: discarded hardware, idle spacecraft, and crashed spacecraft.

Each mission to the Martian surface requires a module to protect the spacecraft. This module includes a heat shield for when the ship passes through the atmosphere of planet and a parachute Y hardware so you can land smoothly.

The ship discards parts of the module as it descends, and these parts can land in different places on the planet’s surface; there may be a shield thermal lower in one place and one parachute in other. When this debris falls to the ground, it can break into smaller pieces, as happened during the landing of the Perseverance rover in 2021. These small pieces can be blown away by Martian winds.

Over the years, much has been found small trash blown by the wind, such as the netting material that was found recently. Earlier in the year, on June 13, 2022, the Perseverance rover detected a thermal blanket large and bright embedded in some rocks 2 km from where the rover landed. Both Curiosity in 2012 and Opportunity in 2005 also found debris of their landing vehicles.

The nine idle spacecraft on the surface of Mars they are the Mars 3 lander, the Mars 6 lander, the Viking 1 lander, the Viking 2 lander, the Sojourner rover, the previously lost Beagle 2 lander, the Phoenix lander, the rover Spirit and the most recently disabled spacecraft, the Opportunity rover. Mostly intact, they are better considered historical relics than trash, according to the study’s author in an article published in The Conversation.

Crashed spaceships and their parts are another source important garbage. At least two spacecraft have crashed and four others have lost contact before or just after landing. Descending safely to the planet’s surface is the most difficult part of any mission. landing in MarsAnd it doesn’t always end well.

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