The Unexamined Life

How Does One Die On Mars?

We’ve always thought about finally stepping on Mars and living there, but what about dying there? What will we wear and where would we go?

For decades, science fiction has approached this question with a couple of very simple answers: toss ‘em out of the airlock, or burn them. Easy peasy. Just ask that one character from “Ad Astra” or Spock in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” or even the brother of the main protagonist in James Cameron’s “Avatar.” In the case of Yondu from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” it’s both because his body got burned before being tossed out into space.

But how about the old fashioned way of burying the dead? We’ve been doing it forever here on Earth, so why not do it on Mars as well? Turns out, leaving bodies out on the surface of Mars or even burying them would just mummify them since the planet doesn’t actually have bacteria that can decompose our bodies. So unless you want to risk a Martian mummy invasion, then we suggest no, and look for other ways to dispose of our dead.

So what do we do? Well, it’s still unclear. To date, only three people have died in space and there is still no specific procedure that is to be followed if ever someone dies out in space, or Mars for that matter.

As for any funeral garb, it’s unlikely that we’ll just zip our loved ones into a bag and toss them out because we’d probably be more respectful of them. As such, J.J. Hastings, a bioengineer and CEO of Analogs LLC who served as commander of Sensora I, is exploring what it would be like to die on Mars alongside fashion designer and researcher Pia Interlandi. The project is split into two parts, and the first is what to wear. Per Hastings, he’s currently working with Interlandi to design a garment that has four layers and 100 percent biodegradable. As for the second part, the project suggests turning the bodies back into raw material and use as compost. However, they didn’t completely reveal the details.

So what do we actually do? Well, looks like we’ll know when we actually get there.

Mars Scientists have been exploring Mars to find potential signs of life and to see if it could support new organisms in the future. Pixabay