We are all in awe of mankind’s impressive efforts over the past 46 years to explore the planet Mars. Every new piece of news about the Red Planet rekindles our wonder. We should be equally amazed, but in a negative sense, that we left behind a lot of trash on Mars.
According to an essay written by postdoctoral researcher Cagri Kilic, from West Virginia University, the debris left on Mars ended up weighing more than 7,000 kilograms.
In a way, it’s no surprise to learn that we left trash on Mars. After all, mysterious pieces of debris recently baffled NASA researchers and people around the world, only for the space agency to realize they were just fragments of netting from a previous landing.
But given the way we’ve treated Earth, our growing impact on our planetary neighbor should make us feel ashamed, write Futurism.
Why are we leaving so much trash on Mars?
According to Kilic, debris on Mars comes from three main discarded components, inactive spacecraft, and crashed spacecraft.
One of the reasons so much debris is left behind is the current method of landing on the planet’s surface. To safely enter and pass through the atmosphere, a spacecraft comes dressed in a disposable heat shield and opens a parachute to slow down before approaching the ground.
All these things are thrown away. Even active rovers leave behind pieces of components; for example, the Curiosity rover lost small pieces of its wheels.
An often overlooked form of trash on Mars is inactive spacecraft, mostly landers. Currently, 9 such devices lie in the sands of the Martian desert. That’s why, in Kilic’s analysis, they “might be considered historical relics rather than trash.”
In addition, between 2 and 4 crashed spacecraft lie somewhere on the surface of the Red Planet, a solemn reminder that landing there is a difficult task that requires meticulously planned execution.
The pollution itself is not big, but the main concern of NASA scientists is that it could spell trouble for current and future missions. The last thing he would want is for junk to get tangled up in a state-of-the-art rover like Perseverance. There is also the threat of contaminating the samples collected by the rover, but so far, this risk is considered to be low.