Mark Watney, Environmental Terrorist
Did you enjoy “The Martian”? Did you like Matt Damon’s portrayal of Mark Watney, astronaut, botanist, engineer, space pirate? Were you riveted by the idea of a lone traveller, struggling to survive on a hostile planet, and get back home? Did you thrill along with his trials, successes, failures, hopes, and heroic journey?
Well, I live on Mars. I am a microbe. And I don’t appreciate what this particular human did during his brief stay on my formerly pristine planet. I’m all in favor of space travel, mind you — without it my kind wouldn’t be spread out amongst the cosmos either. I am a fan of exploration, and I am eager to welcome other species and creatures, even you humans, to our home. But it would be nice if you could kindly just clean up after you leave.
I mean, let’s just look at the damage one person, just one person, did during a one year stay on our rusty rock.
Problem #1: The Trash, Man
I heard you had an accident. A few accidents, actually. I feel for you, I really do. But your oil companies and highway drivers have accidents too — that’s not an excuse to just leave your junk all over the place.
2) You left your MAV all dissassembled out on the lawn.
More trash. OK, you had to get off the planet. OK, and to do that you had to lighten your MAV. So you gutted it, leaving tons, that is, literally more than a ton, of equipment made of electronics, metal, plastic, and who knows what else, out on the formerly untouched surface of Schiaparelli Crater.
“The MAV’s launch weight is over 12,600kg. We need to get that down to 7,300kg.” — The Martian, by Andy Weir
So now you’ve not only got your junk on Acidalia Planitia, but you’ve spread it out over 3,000 km away. Again, one guy, on just one trip, people. One.
3) Dude left radioactive plutonium out on the surface.
It’s bad enough that NASA figured it’d be ok to bury their RTG under the Martian sand. I know that you earthlings complain about radioactive waste being unsafely stored on your own planet, and still haven’t figured out that problem completely. But this guy goes further, and unburies the RTG, carries it around like a quarter of Mars, and then, once finished, takes off, leaving the plutonium still decaying right out in the open. C’mon now.
4) You not only trashed Mars, you trashed the space around it!
So, NASA, you blew a hole in your rescue vehicle in order to change course and rendezvous with the lightened, gutted MAV. You wanted to save your crewmate, I get it! But geez, did you have to just put all that debris into Martian orbit, where before there was nothing but empty space? Our outer atmosphere, what’s left of it, was clear before you got here… soon we’re going to end up looking like you.
Anyway, I don’t want to sound neg. We enjoy having visitors, and are eager to be friends with our solar system neighbors. But could you just, well, leave a lighter footprint, maybe even assume that things could go wrong and try to plan for that — keep the mess a little more on your side of the fence? Thank you. Please come again, just… please think about that. Alright?
At least you use solar energy.