Why Is There Poo On the Moon?

The Apollo landers were designed to lift off from the lunar surface at a particular weight, and since the astronauts were charged with bringing large amounts of moon rock back home, they had to leave behind some unwanted items. This discarded junk included two golf balls, 12 cameras, 12 pairs of boots, a gold-plated telescope, and a total of 96 bags of “human waste.” Although it’s not the best example of green thinking, the waste had no permanent effect on the lunar environment. Any microorganisms present in the human waste couldn’t have grown under the harsh conditions of the lunar surface. It’s possible, however, that some could have survived for a time as dormant, inactive spores. So, after 53 years on the lunar surface the human waste, which is now probably just bags of dust, may contain important information on the survival of microorganisms. Astrobiologists would like to see if any of those microorganisms have undergone any genetic mutations due to the harsh lunar environment, or have indeed survived in a dormant state. They hope one day that private companies may eventually return the human waste for study.