Pollution is no longer an Earth only problem. Though humans have only visited the moon 12 times, there are 400,000 pounds of garbage on its surface.
Most the trash is debris from spaceships and landing craft. They usually discard equipment rather than taking it back to earth on the spacecraft. It dramatically improves the odds that the astronauts will return home safely.
Each moon landing leaves behind a 22,700-pound Lunar Lander. It’s not uncommon for the astronauts to bring and leave junk on the moon, too. They have left golf balls, money, cans, and soda on the moon. There is a gigantic bag full of human waste in a bag. Eventually, a cleanup crew will have to go to the moon to clean up all the trash.
As the Mind Unleashed pointed out, space waste floating around Earth can make its way to the moon. Over 21,000 pieces of trash, mostly disabled satellites and pieces of spacecraft, orbit the Earth at any given time. Sometimes these pieces of garbage crash into each other, which could send the debris to the moon or even into deep space.
Sometimes, the astronauts leave things behind on purpose. For example, a small aluminum memorial was left behind by Apollo 15 to honor those astronauts who never come home. To this day, the monument stands on the moon’s surface.
In a series of images captured from the moon, scientist counted up to 809 objects left on the surface. They saw food cans, trash bags, which was determined to be human waste, and paper such as money and other paper products.
It’s not a secret that humans have trashed the Earth to the point that pollution is becoming a real problem. According to the Atlantic, the garbage is becoming a problem for the moon, too.
With that in mind, here is a partial list of the inventory of the things humans have left on the moon:
- five American flags
- 12 pairs of boots
- two golf balls
- 96 bags of urine, feces, and vomit
- 70 spacecraft, including rovers, crashed orbiters, and modules
- hammers, tongs, rakes, and shovels
- handheld cameras
- used wet wipes
- empty packages of space food
- personal hygiene kits
While eventually, the trash will need to be cleaned up, the garbage is a small price to pay for the research the astronauts have completed by visiting the moon.