In Case You Missed It: More Trash, This Time on Mars

Image (Credit): Illustration of the Opportunity rover on Mars. The rover was declared dead in 2019. (NASA, JPL/ Cornell University)

In an earlier post, I noted the amount of poop as well as other trash left behind on the Moon from prior lunar missions. Well, Cagri Kilic, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at West Virginia University, also ventured a guess at the amount of human trash that has already accummulated on the surface of Mars.

In the article he authored for The Conversation back in September, “Mars is Littered with 15,694 Pounds of Human Trash from 50 Years of Robotic Exploration,” he provided a figure as well as his methodology:

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

That’s a fair amount of trash and defunct equipment. And we are still adding to this toll, with plans to eventually send humans and material for settlements to the Red Planet. The same goes for the Moon, with multiple bases planned by the US, China, and Russia.

I expect we will see some other estimates in the future on what has been left on other planets, moons, and asteroids. And let’s not forget the five spacecraft we have shot beyond Pluto.

We humans do tend to leave a mess where ever we go. We may be explorers, but Boy Scouts would take issue given their principle “Leave No Trace.”