Popular Science: Will Astronauts on Mars Eat Lost Comrades?

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Popular Science: Will Astronauts on Mars Eat Lost Comrades?
Popular Science: Will Astronauts on Mars Eat Lost Comrades?
19 April, 19:40SciencePhoto: iStock
The mission to the Red Planet is a long and dangerous journey, during which one of the crew members can die. What will happen to the body? There are several options: return to Earth, send to eternal voyage in orbit, bury on Mars. Finally - in case of hunger - eat.

In the 2040s, the first human crew is to go to Mars. Over 60 years of space exploration, 21 people have died on missions. When flights, and even more so the colonization of the Red Planet, become commonplace, deaths will surely happen more often, there are too many unknowns. No wonder Elon Musk said: "If you want to go to Mars, prepare to die".

First, astronauts will have to spend at least seven long months on the way to the Red Planet, and then - to live in its harsh conditions. What will happen to the bodies of those who do not survive this space travel? NASA has not yet released any prescriptions on this matter, but experts offer several options, according to Popular Science.

Death can happen on the way to Mars. For example, during a spacewalk. There is always the possibility that an astronaut will be hit by a micrometeorite, which will puncture a hole in the suit, and after 15 seconds he will lose consciousness and die from suffocation or decompression. Just 10 seconds of exposure to the cosmic vacuum - and the water will evaporate from the body, which will swell like a balloon. In this case, colleagues can place the dead body of a comrade right in a sealed spacesuit in the refrigerator, where it will remain until the moment of landing. When a crew member dies on submarines, the bodies are stored away from the cabins, where it is cold, next to the torpedoes. On the ISS, garbage is stored in the coldest part of the station: this allows astronauts to stay away from bacteria and the source of the foul odor. Probably, the dead could also be stored there.

In 2005, NASA commissioned a study from a Swedish company developing sustainable landfills. They came up with the technology of promissory, or cryomation, - freezing a corpse and turning it into a million small fragments. On Earth, liquid nitrogen could be used for promises, and in space, a robotic arm could hang a body in a bag outside the spacecraft. After an hour in such an environment, the body will become fragile. After that, the hand will turn on the vibrations, and the body is fragmented into ash-like remains. These remains will be much more compact than a dead body, and it will be possible to store them on a spacecraft for years, until they return to Earth.

Photo:Promessa/Popular Science

Another option is to send a deceased comrade into space. This seems like the easiest solution, but it is not ideal. If you do not fasten a mini-rocket to the corpse, then the body will get stuck exactly at the point where it was released. And when missions to Mars become regular, rockets will have to work their way through space through the pile of dead bodies.

On Mars, astronauts will face new threats to life. One of them is radiation. Based on the available data, it is 700 times stronger on Mars than on Earth. This can lead to heart disease and narrowing of the arteries, which can also lead to death. In this case, the deceased, like other organic matter, can be buried. However, first the body will have to be cremated - NASA has strict regulations regarding the danger of infection of other planets with microorganisms from Earth. Even rovers are required not to bring any pollution with them, so they are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. What can we say about pathogens, which cannot but be on a dead body.

And finally, one more option: the deceased's colleagues can eat him. It sounds barbaric, but experts recall the so-called "miracle in the Andes" - the story of 1972, when a Uruguayan plane crashed in the Andes and the surviving passengers ate their dead comrades for lack of other food. Bioethics believe that with all due respect to the human body, survival is more important. And if the only way to survive is to eat a dead body, that's acceptable. Although undesirable.

Experts suggest considering a flight to Mars as an ascent of Mount Everest. Everyone who is going there knows that if he dies, he will stay there forever. On the way up there are two hundred bodies, which are clearly visible when there is little snow. For everyone who walks past, this is a reminder that they are risking their lives in order to reach the summit, this is part of climbing Mount Everest.

Mars kills: multiple ways to die during a mission

  1. Astronauts can die from radiation during a flight to Mars and after landing on the Red Planet.
  2. The spacecraft can crash while trying to land on Mars.
  3. The low gravity of Mars can cause health problems such as bone loss.
  4. An astronaut's spacesuit can be damaged during exploration of Mars, and this can lead to a lack of oxygen and death due to suffocation.
  5. Martian soil contains high concentrations of salts that can damage the human body.
  6. Astronauts can fall prey to their own companions if they go crazy on Mars.
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