On Mars, more than 7 tons of ``garbage discarded by humans'' is scattered


NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

In recent years, data collection by the Mars probe Perseverance and manned exploration projects targeting the latter half of the 2030s are gaining momentum, but Mars exploration itself has been around for decades. Cagri Kilic , a postdoctoral researcher at West Virginia University, explains that 15,694 pounds (about 7.1 tons) of garbage thrown away by humans has been dumped on Mars as a result of years of exploration.

Images of EDL Debris - NASA Mars

Mars is littered with 15,694 pounds of human trash from 50 years of robotic exploration

In 1971, NASA launched Mariner 9 , the Mars probe, and successfully put an artificial satellite into orbit around Mars for the first time. A few months later, the Soviet Union sent Mars 2 to Mars, and although it failed to land, the lander crashed into the Martian surface. The subsequent Mars 3 lander succeeded in soft landing on the surface of Mars, and since ancient times humans have sent various artificial objects to Mars, such as operating in less than one minute.

According to the United Nations Space Agency , each country has sent 18 artifacts to Mars in a total of 14 missions. Missions to Mars require modules to protect the spacecraft, but thermal insulation shields, parachutes, landing gear, etc. are unnecessary for subsequent exploration and will be discarded, so the Martian surface has 'entry, descent, and landing ( Entry, Descent, Landing/EDL)” is still littered. Below are images of the abandoned parachute and part of the spacecraft when the Mars rover Perseverance landed.

by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Besides, materials used for insulation blankets ......

by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Perseverance has also discovered knotted string-like objects on the surface of Mars.

by NASA/JPL-Caltech

Also, the spacecraft

Curiosity , which was active on Mars before Perseverance, is also photographing debris that seems to have been left in past missions ...

by NASA/JPL-Caltech

The older rover Opportunity also photographed debris of thermal shielding material. Thus, it is not uncommon to find human debris on the surface of Mars.

by NASA/JPL-Caltech

In addition, probes that were sent to Mars in the past and stopped their activities are left as they are on the surface of Mars. Mars 3, Mars 6 , Viking 1 , Viking 2 , Mars Pathfinder (Sojourner) , Beagle 2 , Phoenix , Spirit , and Opportunity. It may be better to think of it as a historical relic rather than garbage.' Of course, these former probes are gradually turning into garbage due to wear etc., and Curiosity's aluminum wheels are missing in places.

Kilic points out that the total weight of objects sent to Mars so far is about 22,000 pounds (10 tons). Trash, excluding the total weight of 6,306 pounds (2.9 tons) of the exploration rover currently in operation, is said to reach 15,694 pounds (7.1 tons).

Scientists today are concerned about the risks Martian debris poses to current and future missions. The Perseverance team is documenting all debris they find to see if it could contaminate the samples the rover is collecting.

in Science, Posted by log1h_ik