Humans have left more than 15,000 pounds of trash on Mars in the past 50 years, and no person has ever set foot on the red planet.
Cagri Kilic, a postdoctoral researcher in robotics at West Virginia University, analyzed the mass of all the rovers and orbiters sent to Mars and subtracted the weight from what is currently in operation, resulting in 15,694 pounds of debris.
The waste includes discarded hardware, idle spacecraft, and those that crashed on the surface — most notably the Soviet Union’s Mars orbiter 2 that crash-landed in 1971.
Not only are humans already polluting another planet, but scientists fear the debris could contaminate samples collected by NASA’s Perseverance rover currently searching for ancient life on Mars.
A scientist has calculated that there is 15,694 kilograms of garbage on Mars. Most of it comes from discarded hardware like this thermal blanket that protected NASA’s Perseverance to survive its descent through the infernal atmosphere
Much of the waste is unavoidable, as much of the parts must be thrown away to protect the craft as it floats through the Red Planet’s infernal atmosphere — including NASA’s Perseverance which endured seven minutes of hell when it landed in February 2021.Read:Jupiter To Reach Opposition, Closest Approach to Earth in 59 Years!
Collecting samples on Mars that will be returned to Earth, the rover captured images of debris during its mission.
In June, NASA’s Earth-based team spotted a distant light in an image returned by Perseverance, prompting the rover to take a closer look.
A few weeks later, Perseverance entered the Hogwallow Flats region and acquired a high-resolution 360-degree Mastcam-Z panorama.
The Ingenuity helicopter captured a photo of the landing gear used during its arrival with Perseverance. Pictures is a parachute and the cone-shaped backshell that protected the rover in space
More recently, in June, Perseverance came across a piece of shredded Dacron net that helped it land safely on Mars.
And the winds from Mars started to untangle the tight net and three weeks later it was seen as a ball of knotted, rope-like material.Read:New Invention Triggers One of Quantum Mechanics’ Strangest and Most Useful Phenomena
The image showed that the bright light was the reflection of a thermal blanket.
This was used to protect the car-sized vehicle from extreme temperatures it experienced during the landing.
The blanket is tucked into the corner of several rocks and appears to reflect light.
The rover’s companion, the Ingenuity helicopter, also captured an image of the landing gear used during its arrival with Perseverance in 2021.
A parachute and the cone-shaped backshell that protected the rover in space, as well as during its fiery descent to the surface of Mars, were seen in incredible detail.
More recently, in June, Perseverance discovered a piece of shredded Dacron net that helped it land safely on Mars.
And the winds from Mars started to untangle the tight net and three weeks later it was seen as a ball of knotted, rope-like material.
NASA’s Opportunity is now dead on Mars, but in 2004 sent a photo of its heat shield, along with debris lying on the ground for miles.Read:Neptune Looks Out of This World in Latest James Webb Telescope Image
There are a total of nine idle spacecraft on Mars, including the Mars 3 lander, Mars 6 lander, Viking 1 lander, Viking 2 lander, the Sojourner rover, the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander (pictured), the Phoenix lander, the Spirit rover and the Opportunity rover
Then there are the dead robots on Mars, most notably NASA’s Opportunity which operated from 2004 to mid-2018.
This rover weighs about 347 pounds, the same weight as a hippopotamus, and is now trapped in the Martin dirt.
However, it left a trail of debris as it crossed the Red Planet.
It sent NASA a photo of its heat shield in 2004, along with debris lying on the ground for miles.
There are a total of nine idle spacecraft on Mars, including the Mars 3 lander, Mars 6 lander, Viking 1 lander, Viking 2 lander, the Sojourner rover, the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander, the Phoenix- lander, the Spirit rover, and the Opportunity rover.
According to Kilic, most of the robots are still intact and space agencies consider them historical monuments rather than discarded garbage.
“If you add up the mass of all the spacecraft ever sent to Mars, you get about 22,000 pounds (9979 kilograms),” Kilic wrote in The Conversation.
“Subtract the weight of the currently operational craft on the surface — 6,306 pounds (2,860 kilograms) — and you’re left with 15,694 pounds (7,119 kilograms) of human debris on Mars.”