Over the next decade, experts expect an increase in the amount of garbage on the Moon. However, it is absolutely unclear who should clean it up because the Moon does not belong to anyone. Meanwhile, even Earth’s orbit cannot be rid of debris.
The littering of the Moon
The fall of the Russian Luna-25 has raised concerns worldwide because it increased the amount of debris on the surface of our satellite. Chandrayaan-3 managed to land safely, but it was not the last spacecraft to do so. Over the next decade, governments of different countries and private companies plan to perform over 100 expeditions to the Moon, each of which could significantly increase its pollution.
At the same time, there are already a considerable number of objects on the Moon’s surface that can be identified as garbage in one way or another. Primarily, this includes everything left after the automatic stations and rocket stages collided with it. In addition, there are about a hundred packages on the surface containing the household waste of manned expeditions.
There are also many strange objects left by humans on the Moon: boots, a golf ball, feathers. Of course, all of this can be considered as cultural landmarks, but if their numbers continue to increase, the surface of our satellite will eventually turn into a dump.
Who will clean up the Moon
The worst thing about the situation with trash on the Moon is that it is absolutely unclear who should clean it up. According to the international agreement of 1967, no country can claim any part of our satellite as its territory. However, there is no mention of commercial companies in this agreement.
The Moon Agreement adopted by the United Nations in 1979 defines it as the common heritage of all mankind. However, the United States, the Soviet Union, and China never signed this document. The absence of a formal owner means that no one is responsible for cleanliness either. And there are no projects to clean the surface of our satellite in existence. Everyone is interested in using it, but no one is interested in preserving its cleanliness.
Meanwhile, the United States is trying to bring order to this situation through the Artemis Accords. They have clauses related to not polluting the Moon during its exploration. This document has already been signed by 28 countries, including Ukraine. However, the main players in the new lunar race, Russia and China, continue to ignore it, and there is no way for the United States to influence them.
Trash in orbit
The situation with space debris on Earth’s orbit shows how serious the situation with lunar debris may become. Experts have been talking about the critical situation in Earth’s orbit for a long time, but there are still no means of cleaning it up that would work right now.
Experts say that there may be 23,000 pieces of debris larger than 10 cm in Earth’s orbit right now. This includes malfunctioning satellites. The number of particles smaller than 1 mm is approaching 100 million. And it will only grow.
As more and more private companies launch their satellites, Earth’s orbit turns into a congested highway. Over time, collisions may become inevitable, creating a real danger for anyone and anything flying in space. Source: phys.org.