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It is a well-known fact that humans have been polluting the Earth for generations. But what about other celestial objects? Satellites, vehicles, and more was and is sent into space repeatedly and is left in the unknown. Have the Moon and Mars been polluted by that?
Personal belongings and tools were left during missions. Even spacecrafts, retroreflectors and so much more is now on the surface, and mostly not used, of the Moon and Mars.
The Moon is a popular destination for national programs, as well as private companies. Thus, it is getting more and more important to protect its surface.
The total weight of waste on the Mars is around 10 tons. On the Moon it is around 18 times more, namely ~183 tons!
Weight of Elephants as Unit
To get a better understanding of the magnitude of these numbers below is an illustration.
An adult Elephant weights around 5 tons, so if we take the Mars, we can compare that weight to two adult elephants! And that is what is on the surface. If we would include space junk in the atmosphere around mars it would be even more!
On the other hand, the moon has as much space junk, that it has around the same weight that 40 grown elephants have! And that is, again only what can be found on the surface.
In the future a lot of missions are planned, and even more space junk will be produced. But how much more will it become?
Alone in the next five years there are about 50 missions from countries and private companies to the Moon planned. That means, that the sum of the debris on the Moon will be more than doubled!
In 10 years, we will have ~456 tons of debris on the Moon if we don’t change anything!
Concerning Mars there are 8 missions that are in development until 2032. There have been 15 proposals, including 9 that have their fixed launch date in the next 10 years.
Given this information, we will probably have a weight of ~21 tons of debris on Mars by 2032!
Download the full report:
Author: Viola Sommer, OeWF. The arcticle was written in the context of her OeWF summer internship
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