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


people exploring the surface of mars over 50 years, according to United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairsnations have sent 18 man-made objects on Mars Over 14 different missions. Many of these missions are still ongoing, but in the decades since the exploration of Mars, mankind has left many pieces of debris on the planet’s surface.

i a Postdoctoral Research Fellow Which studies ways to track Mars and Moon rovers. In mid-August 2022, NASA confirmed that the Mars rover Perseverance had seen a piece of garbage during its landing, this time a tangled mess of nets. And this isn’t the first time scientists have found trash on Mars. That’s because there’s so much out there.

A shattered, round, white metal object on the surface of Mars.

All spacecraft that land on Mars eject this protective shell-like instrument while approaching the Martian surface.

Where does debris come from?

Debris on Mars comes from three main sources: abandoned hardware, defunct spacecraft, and crashed spacecraft.

Every mission to the surface of Mars requires one modulus that protects the spacecraft. This module includes a heat shield when the craft passes through the planet’s atmosphere and a parachute and landing hardware so that it can descend gently.

The craft shoots down pieces of the module, and these fragments may land at various locations on the planet’s surface – a low heat shield in one location and a parachute in another. When this debris falls to the ground, it can break into smaller pieces, such as Perseverance occurred during the rover landing in 2021, These small pieces can then be blown away by the winds of Mars.

A small tangled piece of mesh on the surface of Mars.

The Perseverance rover came upon this piece of mesh on July 12, 2022, more than a year after landing on Mars.

A lot of small, wind-blown dustbins have been found over the years – like mesh material Recently found. Earlier in the year, on June 13, 2022, the Perseverance rover observed a large, luminous thermal blanket in some rocks 1.25 miles (2 km) from the rover’s landing site. Both Curiosity in 2012 And Opportunity in 2005 Debris also came from their landing vehicles.

Three photos showing black soot and debris from above.

The European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander crashed on the surface of Mars in 2016, as seen in these photos of the crash site captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

dead and crashed spaceship

Nine dormant spacecraft on the surface of Mars Build the next type of rubble. These crafts are Mars 3 Lander, Mars 6 Lander, Viking 1 Lander, Viking 2 Lander, Sojourner Rover, The Formerly lost Beagle 2 lander, the Phoenix lander, the Spirit rover and the most recently defunct spacecraft, the Opportunity rover. Mostly intact, these may be considered better historical relics than rubbish.

Breakdown affects everything on the surface of Mars. Parts of Curiosity’s aluminum wheels are broken And possibly scattered along the rover’s track. Some litter are purposeful, with perseverance After dropping a drill bit on the surface In July 2021, it is allowed to Swap in a New, Antique Bit So that he keeps collecting samples.

A photo of the Curiosity rover's wheels showing holes.

The wheels of the Curiosity rover have suffered damage over the years, leaving behind tiny bits of aluminum.

Crashed spacecraft and their fragments are another important source of waste. At least two spacecraft have crashed, and an additional four have lost contact before or after landing. Landing safely on the planet’s surface is the hardest part of any Mars landing mission – and it ending is not always good,

When you add up the mass of all spacecraft sent to Mars, you get about 22,000 pounds (9979 kilograms). Subtract the weight of the craft currently operating on the surface – 6,306 pounds (2,860 kg) – and you have 15,694 pounds (7,119 kg) of human debris left on Mars.

Why does garbage matter?

Today, scientists’ main concern about waste on Mars is that it poses a threat to current and future missions. Persistence teams are documenting all the debris they find and investigating to see if any of it may be contaminating the samples the rover is collecting. NASA engineers have also considered whether the debris from the landing could have entangled the solid, but is concluded that the risk is low,

The real reason why debris is important on Mars is its place in history. Spacecraft and their fragments are early milestones for human planetary exploration.

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