What will happen to the bodies of the colonists who die on Mars?

It seems that the plans to send humans to colonize Mars are serious indeed, and as things progress, it may not be long before the first Pathfinders are sent to the Red Planet. After all, there is an ongoing project by the Mars One people that already has thousands of stakeholders and, more recently, Space X's Elon Musk has also come up with ideas on how to send people there.

However, despite all the excitement over the possible colonization of Mars, the endeavor will not be easy, and, according to Elon Musk, anyone who wants to go to the Red Planet must be prepared to die. Also, thinking that those who survive the trip will be settling in another world means that they may never return to Earth. If so, what corpses of this people will they bring?

Dead on Mars

According to Sarah Laskow of Atlas Obscura, of all the people who have been sent to space to date, only three have lost their lives: Russian cosmonauts Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev, who were aboard Soyuz 11 and died during its reentry into the earth's atmosphere. So when the first earthling dies on Mars, this sad event will be a kind of milestone for humanity.

The trip could possibly be no return

After all, never, ever has a human being been buried, cremated, or abandoned on another planet, which means that body disposal procedures will have to be correctly established - because, right, death is (yet) an inevitable part of life. . However, predicting how a corpse would behave on Mars could help shape the best strategy for dealing with the problem.

According to Sarah, based on the environmental conditions of Mars, if a human deceased were simply abandoned on its surface, it would last long - long - time. That's because while here on Earth a lot of microorganisms come into play as soon as a person dies, on the Red Planet, where there are no living organisms (at least as far as we know), it would be different.

Artistic representation of a colony on Mars

Bacteria that traveled from Earth to Mars in the body of the deceased would begin to work quickly, especially if they were left in the Martian equator, where temperatures are slightly milder during the day. However, at night, when things get extremely cold over there - and very quickly - the corpse would eventually freeze. With that, bacterial activity would cease and the dead would begin to be naturally mummified.

Inhospitable environment

Another thing that would happen to a body abandoned to the elements on the surface of Mars would be radiation exposure, since the planet has a much rarer atmosphere than ours. Then, little by little, the body's organic compounds would be destroyed, and it would be reduced to a pile of bones. Even so, if left untouched, the skeleton would probably survive millions and millions of years.

Unhealthy conditions for humans

However, according to Sarah, considering that the colonizers would be human, they would probably not let their Mars-thrown dead like that anyway - and one possibility would be for the bodies to be buried. In this case, the corpses would be much better protected and, without suffering from radiation, they would be much better preserved.

A more efficient option for settlers to deal with the issue of corpses would be cremation. This process, as you know, requires oxygen and fuel, and missions that aim to bring humans to the Red Planet are already working to find ways to extract and even produce those resources there. Incidentally, the people behind the Mars One project have already chosen cremation as a method of fixing the dead.

Finally, a less conventional but perhaps more “productive” alternative would be to turn corpses into compost. Although this proposal seems somewhat morbid, the fact is that the earthlings who set out on the adventure of colonizing the Red Planet could benefit from a system where it could store organic matter and turn it into fertilizer to be used for growing crops. plants and food.

Human fertilizer

Of course, before settling on something like a composting system with human bodies, colonists would have to deal with a series of inherent taboos of the human race. Also, to really know how corpses would behave and how best to deal with the issue, we first have to get to Mars. But it costs nothing to think about what to do when the inevitable happens.