A space archeologist discussed how people will cope with deaths on space once colonies on alien planets such as Mars are established. The archeologist noted that establishing cemeteries on space settlements will change people’s perspective on space travel.

Alice Gorman, who focuses on studying various out-of-Earth topics such as space debris and planetary landing sites, talked about the concept of death through an article on First Post. Despite Earth’s rich history when it comes to space travel, only a few people have died in space.

Currently, the only known people who have died outside Earth are the crew members of the Soyuz 11 mission of the Soviet space program. The spacecraft Soyuz 7K-OKS, which was crewed by cosmonauts Georgy Dobrovolsky, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov, left Earth on June 6, 1971, to dock with Russia’s Salyut space station.

Although the initial part of the mission was a success, the cosmonauts encountered fatal issues shortly after leaving the space station on June 29. As their spacecraft was returning to Earth, it suddenly depressurized and killed the three cosmonauts. Their bodies were recovered on Earth but reports indicated that the three men died in space.

For Gorman, dying in space will become more common especially when the first human colony on an alien planet is established, which NASA aims to do so in Mars in the future. According to the space archeologist, death on Mars or the Moon is inevitable.

“It’s something people often overlook when talking about the prospect of settling on Mars,” Gorman wrote. “The risks are so great. People are going to die. They’re probably going to die if there’s any human settlement on the Moon as well.”

Gorman noted that the first human death in space will serve as a turning point for humanity. Once cemeteries on settlements on Mars or the Moon are established, the remains of the bodies will become incorporated into the alien environment. This concept can certainly change anyone’s perspective on space.

“This is going to change how we feel about space,” Gorman said. “When we look at those planets in the sky and think there are cemeteries there; perhaps there are human bodies being incorporated into the lunar regolith or into the red Martian dust.”    

Mars Curiosity Photo This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2438 (2019-06-16 03:53:59 UTC). Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech