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The environmental situation on Mars does not allow a buried corpse to decompose. Lack of microbes on the Martian surface means that decomposition of organic material (i.e. dead bodies) is not possible. To avoid an exponential growth of number of tombs along with a growing population, a different kind of funeral will eventually be required.

Decomposition in the greenhouse


"Would settlers be happy with eating vegetables grown from the remnants of their dead crewmates? - Ioneill" Please see the ongoing discussion on the talk page...

Swedish scientists have developed a method to pre-process the corpses instead of burying the body as a whole. The dead bodies are freeze-dried with liquid nitrogen, then powdered by a vibration mechanism and finally buried on the cemetery, not too far beneath the surface[1]. The roots of plants grow into the powder and bring the substances of the powder into the circles of eternity. This funeral technology has an esthetic aspect: If the grandchild asks "Where has my grandma gone?" you can tell him "She has turned into a beautiful rose...".

The funeral in a Martian settlement can be very similar to the Swedish method. The dried powder may be buried in parts of greenhouses to act as a fertilizer, aiding growth of plants. For that reason the greenhouses might be divided to different parts, one for food production and one for biological oxygen production and funeral.


Another option is traditional cremation. Burning bodies (and other medical/biological waste for that matter) breaks down biomass, such as the organs, into vapor and ash. However large, dense parts of the body, such as hip bones, will be left over and requires further processing. To generate enough heat in the furnace to cremate the dead - 760 to 1150 °C (1400 to 2100 °F)[2]

  • Cremation is fundamentally rapid decomposition, without the messy parts involving bacteria.
  • Just as happens on Earth during the winter in northern latitudes, bodies the early stages of the colony may simply be refrigerated, or essentially stored outside at the low average Martian temperature.


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