The recent publicity surrounding Ridley Scott’s blockbuster, The Martian (in which Jason Bourne gets marooned on Mars and has to survive on potatoes grown on his own poo) got me thinking of what happened to all the poo generated by the crews of the Apollo moon landings?
Right-thinking Greens would, I’m sure, regard the Moon as the ultimate virgin territory whose barren purity must be preserved at all cost.
But hey, this was the sixties (which really went on til the first oil shock of 74) and attitudes to leaving one’s shit (literally in this case) lying around were somewhat more relaxed.
I did a quick check and the invaluable website http://trashonthemoon.com/ details 96 bags of poo, piss and puke that successive Apollo missions left on the surface of the Moon, calculating – quite reasonably – that we’ve got enough here already so why bring back more when you could ship a load of moon rock instead?
NASA justifies this by saying that future missions will retrieve and examine bags of poo to see what effect the harsh lunar environment – temperature variations from -183 degrees celsius at night to +106 degrees celsius during the day, full vacuum and cosmic ray bombardment – will have on it.
I’m also not sure whether they just left a neat pile of trash at the foot of the LEM after blast-off or whether they were tempted – following the practice of London dog owners – to fling plastic bags filled with excrement as far as possible.
With gravity on the moon only 16 per cent of that on earth, shit-flinging would indeed reach new heights.