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Waspie_Dwarf

Earth Micro-organisms Could Colonize Mars

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Space Station Research Shows That Hardy Little Space Travelers Could Colonize Mars

In the movies, humans often fear invaders from Mars. These days, scientists are more concerned about invaders to Mars, in the form of micro-organisms from Earth. Three recent scientific papers examined the risks of interplanetary exchange of organisms using research from the International Space Station. All three, Survival of Rock-Colonizing Organisms After 1.5 Years in Outer Space, Resistance of Bacterial Endospores to Outer Space for Planetary Protection Purposes and Survival of Bacillus Pumilus Spores for a Prolonged Period of Time in Real Space Conditions, have appeared in Astrobiology Journal.

Organisms hitching a ride on a spacecraft have the potential to contaminate other celestial bodies, making it difficult for scientists to determine whether a life form existed on another planet or was introduced there by explorers. So it’s important to know what types of micro-organisms from Earth can survive on a spacecraft or landing vehicle.

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IIntroducing Life on another system sounds like a good idea. It is better than introducing toxins or war.

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IIntroducing Life on another system sounds like a good idea. It is better than introducing toxins or war.

Actually, if you are trying to discover if there is life on Mars, introducing micro-organisms from Earth is just about the worst thing you could possibly do.

It could quite possibly annihilate every living thing on Mars. It would also mean that the results of any experiments to find life would be null and void.

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If we ever get to a point where we can do an extensive search of Mars for Martian life (i.e. covering the greater part of likely places for its existence) and find none, then these bacteria could have a place in terraforming, if that ever becomes a goal. There are likely a host of hardy bacteria, lichen, etcetera that could be seeded there.

I don't know of the practicality of ever having a permanent colony on Mars, given the distance and the hostile environment, so it seems likely that we might want to begin making it more habitable. Whether that is even possible is another question. With no active magnetosphere to deflect solar radiation and with gravity too weak to keep an atmosphere of any consequence from "leaking" into space it may be difficult indeed to get Earth life to thrive there, including humans. At least in hostile environments such as the research facilities in Antarctica, scientists can occasionally catch a break in the weather and run around outside, feel the sunshine and breath fresh air. That won't be happening on Mars, it will be more like a prison.

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Posted (edited)

IIntroducing Life on another system sounds like a good idea. It is better than introducing toxins or war.

Well, introducing foreign florae and/or faunae to an ecosystem in the past didn't yield good results. The mix tends to fight each other instead of coexisting. A whole planet could risk an unwanted catastrophy.

Actually, if you are trying to discover if there is life on Mars, introducing micro-organisms from Earth is just about the worst thing you could possibly do.

It could quite possibly annihilate every living thing on Mars. It would also mean that the results of any experiments to find life would be null and void.

Very true. I like to think when the first astronauts to touch Mars will bring samples to Earth so bacteria and martian soil can be tested in a controlled environment.

Edited by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR:

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It seems to me if it's possible for microorganisms to survive the million or so year journey involved in being on an asteroid or piece of volcano thrown off the one and eventually landing on the other, then it has happened many times over the three plus billion years the two have been exchanging bits of each other.

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If we ever get to a point where we can do an extensive search of Mars for Martian life (i.e. covering the greater part of likely places for its existence) and find none, then these bacteria could have a place in terraforming, if that ever becomes a goal. There are likely a host of hardy bacteria, lichen, etcetera that could be seeded there.

I don't know of the practicality of ever having a permanent colony on Mars, given the distance and the hostile environment, so it seems likely that we might want to begin making it more habitable. Whether that is even possible is another question. With no active magnetosphere to deflect solar radiation and with gravity too weak to keep an atmosphere of any consequence from "leaking" into space it may be difficult indeed to get Earth life to thrive there, including humans. At least in hostile environments such as the research facilities in Antarctica, scientists can occasionally catch a break in the weather and run around outside, feel the sunshine and breath fresh air. That won't be happening on Mars, it will be more like a prison.

If we do that, we'd be doing the same thing the European settlers did to the American Indian, Incans and Mayans. Not saying there is humanoid life on Mars, but why start off ont he wrong foot. There may be another type of life there we'd kill off.

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If we do that, we'd be doing the same thing the European settlers did to the American Indian, Incans and Mayans. Not saying there is humanoid life on Mars, but why start off ont he wrong foot. There may be another type of life there we'd kill off.

The big difference between Europeans colonizing the Americas and humans colonizing Mars is the Americas had resources. It was profitable to set up shop there and ship things back home. So far, other than for curiosity's sake, there's nothing on Mars that makes it worth putting humans there on a permanent basis.

If we come up with a drive system that allows us to get there and back in a reasonably shorter (and more cost effective) amount of time that could help.

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I find it very unlikely that bacteria colonies would survive very long on mars unless they landed in a very specific environment due to a lack of sustaining energy source.

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This is exactly how life was started on earth, humans were extremely resistant bacteria on the side an alien spacecraft that landed on earth!

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Not wanting to kill Martian life seems like not trying to kill bigfoot. First the thing being protected has to be shown to be true.

As to identifying if the microbes are native of from Earth, wouldn't a DNA test show an exact match with Earth DNA? Surely Martian DNA would have great differences.

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I think (Mars aside which I agree is almost certainly sterile although we want to be dead sure it is before doing much since we would lose such a scientific opportunity) that once we start interstellar travel (in say a thousand years if we survive) we will find that "habitable" planets have their own microbes but little else.

What do we do once we have studied them? The odds are direct exposure to them will be lethal. It may not be morally perfect but the odds are we will sterilize the planet and then move in.

That is why I think space-faring societies must be rare since we managed to evolve for a couple billion years unmolested.

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