There’s a reason why space is regarded as the final frontier. And, despite decades of research into the unknown beyond our planet, we still know so little.
What we do know is that contaminating space and other planets with human trash is something we want to prevent as much as possible. That’s why the recent discovery of human waste on Mars by Perseverance has sparked so much debate.
Why are people concerned about Perseverance Discovering human garbage on Mars?
Looking at one of Perseverance’s most recent photographs and being concerned by the idea that Mars is already polluted with human waste may seem foolish. After all, we aren’t piling up piles of garbage on Mars. While this is technically correct, the discovery of a thermal blanket from the Perseverance’s landing has aroused some concerns.
For one thing, there will always be concerns about climate change, which many people feel humans is accelerating. There are many factors that contribute to the continuing changes in our global climate, and humans undoubtedly plays a role in all of them. That role has also generated concerns about how our exploration of space can result in it becoming polluted with human garbage.
By no means are these fears unfounded. In fact, numerous countries ratified the Outer Space Treaty in 1966. This pact effectively stated that space exploration will be conducted for the benefit of all people. We would also avoid “harmful pollution of space and celestial bodies,” according to the document. Obviously, this includes not allowing a mountain of human garbage to accumulate on Mars.
Many feel, however, that this deal does not go far enough. And, given Perseverance’s latest discovery, this could very well be the case. Every spacecraft we send to Mars or any other planet will leave some sort of debris behind. It’s impossible to prevent it. There are, however, efforts we may take to restrict the quantity of waste we let to accumulate.
What Exactly did Perseverance Discover?
Which brings us back to the garbage discovered by Perseverance on Mars. On the Martian surface, a silvery sliver of material was discovered wedged into a rock structure. The nature of the garbage is unknown, but NASA believes it may be a thermal blanket from the rover’s descent stage.
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Thermal blankets are used to keep spacecraft temperatures under control. What’s most unexpected about this piece of trash’s placement is that it’s over 2 kilometres (approximately 1.24 miles) from where Perseverance’s descent stage crashed. By any standard, that isn’t a ridiculously long journey. However, you have to wonder if it landed there or if the wind blew it there.
In any case, finding human rubbish on Mars is a matter for concern, even if the accumulation isn’t yet severe. It will be critical for NASA and other space agencies to develop sustainable materials that degrade without producing a lot of garbage as they prepare for manned journeys to the planet and other planets.