According to a March 2 story from Live Science, we of the planet Earth have left around 400,000 pounds of trash on our closest orbiting astronomical neighbor.
“ Much of this moon litter was left by NASA astronauts who landed on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972 during the Apollo program,” Live Science Senior Writer Laura Geggel says in her story. “The other rubbish comes from crewless missions from space-exploring agencies, including those from the United States, Russia, Japan, India and Europe.”
NASA, though prefers the word “artifacts” to “rubbish.”
In its introduction to a long list of items left behind, the space agency says, “For the past half-century, the Moon has been the destination of some of humankind’s most monumental and challenging expeditions. As the Moon becomes more accessible to both national space programs and private enterprise, it is important that we protect lunar artifacts for both their historic and scientific value. The first step in preserving these artifacts is establishing exactly what is there and where it is. This resource offers a comprehensive catalogue of human artifacts on the Moon based on the currently available data.”
So, what is among the rubbish and/or artifacts left behind?
According to NASA, the list includes, lunar overshoes, TV equipment presumably of the same vintage one would find in Mee-Maw’s basement, a defecation collection device, a urine collection assembly (large), another urine collection assembly (small), hammers, tongs, blue towels, red towels, several hammocks (“Wake up, John, and put on your lunar overshoes because we’ve got to get back to the module”), two golf balls, a javelin, wet wipes, a lunar roving vehicle, a Bible on the dash of the lunar roving vehicle (handy if pulled over for speeding in the lunar roving vehicle), 100 2-dollar bills, a document proclaiming “University of Michigan Alumni of the Moon,” trousers (“Dang! I left my pants down there next to the urine collection assembly”), bacterial ointment, a tie tack and ear plugs.
As environmentally conscious citizens of Earth, we have a duty to clean up at least some of our space mess. One solution is to postpone efforts to colonize Mars and instead focus attention on developing technology that will allow us to retrieve the useless items we have left behind.
But I have a better idea: A flea market, the best and most cost-effective way to get rid of useless junk.
We’ll wait until space travel becomes more commonplace and then stage the first ever Great American (I thought of it, so we get to claim it) Lunar Flea Market and Chili Cook-Off on Neil Armstrong’s birthday.
Everyone gets to enjoy chili, honor an American hero and haggle for space junk to take home.
“ How much do you want for this here javelin?”
“ Well now, that is a gen-u-ine space javelin tossed by none other than astronaut Edgar Mitchell himself, the sixth man on the moon, so I can’t let it go for less than $125.”
“ Man, did you just pull that price out of Uranus? That’s mighty steep for a used javelin.”
“ Tell you what, I will pair it up with a urine collection assembly for $150.”
“ Is that the large urine collection assembly or the small urine collection assembly?”
“ Small is all I got left. Fellow came in earlier and bought every large one I had, plus all my wet wipes and John Glenn’s trousers.”
“ I’ll give you $165 for the javelin, the urine collection system, the golf balls and a tie tack.”
“ Well, my friend, I’ll just throw in a hammer for nothing. Deal?”
See, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out. You’re welcome, NASA and I’ll see you at the flea market.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.