Space is considered the last frontier for a reason. And, despite decades of studying the unknown beyond our planet, there is still so little we know. What we do know, however, is that exposure to human waste in space and on other planets is something we want to avoid as much as possible. This is why the recent discovery of human trash on Mars has so strongly conversed.
Why people are concerned about the persistence of finding human trash on Mars
It might seem silly to look at one of the most recent photos to persevere and be disturbed by the fact that Mars is already littered with human waste. After all, it’s not like we’re piling up a lot of trash on Mars. And, while this is technically true, the discovery of the thermal blanket from Perseverance’s landing has raised some questions.
For one, there are always concerns about climate change, which many believe humanity is moving forward. Obviously, there are many reasons behind the ongoing changes in our global climate, and humanity undoubtedly plays a part in all of them. The part we play has also raised some concerns about how our exploration of space may be littered with human waste.
These are by no means invalid concerns. In fact, back in 1966, several countries signed the Outer Space Treaty. The agreement essentially agreed that space exploration would be done for the benefit of all. It also said that we would “avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies. Obviously, this includes not letting a bunch of human waste build up on Mars.”
But many argue that the treaty does not say enough. And, with the recent discovery by Persistence, it may very well be true. Every spacecraft we put on Mars or any other planet is going to leave some sort of garbage behind. There is no way to avoid this. However, there are steps we can take to limit the amount of trash we allow to pile up.
What did perseverance find anyway?
Which brings us back to the trash that Perseverance found on Mars. The silvery piece of material was seen as a rock on the surface of Mars. While the exact nature of the dustbin is not known, NASA believes This is a thermal blanket from the rover’s descending stage.
Thermal blankets are used to control the temperature of the spacecraft. However, the most surprising thing about the location of this piece of garbage is that it is more than 2 km (about 1.24 mi) away from where Perseverance’s descent stage crashed. It’s not an insane distance by any measure. But it makes you wonder whether it landed there or the wind kept it there.
Either way, finding human trash on Mars is a cause for concern, even if construction isn’t quite there yet. As NASA and other space agencies prepare for manned missions to the planet and other planets, it will be important to find sustainable materials that degrade without creating a lot of waste.