October 25, 2021

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Mummies on Mars: What Happens to the Dead on the Red Planet

According to scientists, an important factor for rot is: inside, too, the temperature. On Mars it is between minus four and minus 96 degrees Celsius, on average it is minus 63 degrees Celsius. At these temperatures, even the bacteria in the body would not be able to contribute to the breakdown of the body and the decomposition would stop. The near complete lack of oxygen – only 0.16% of the Martian atmosphere is made up of it – also plays a role. Most (aerobic) bacteria in the human body depend on it.

According to Connor, Mars is more likely to turn the deceased into mummies, which resemble swamp corpses on earth. Lack of oxygen is also responsible for their development, as the future zone writes. According to forensic scientist Connor, human bodies on Mars would likely dry up after death. Mars mummies are likely to remain stable indefinitely. Cremation of those who died on Mars in crematoria or returning the corpses to Earth is unlikely to be an alternative, at least at the beginning of colonization on Mars, for financial and logistical reasons.

According to forensic scientist Nicholas Passalacqua, however, one could think of burying the bodies of the deceased in an environment with earth-like conditions and organisms such as a greenhouse, where they would then be decomposed. Another possibility, according to Passalacqua in the journal Astronomy, would be that anaerobic bacteria, that is, those that do not need oxygen, adapt to the Martian environment and decompose the body.

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