Even if we do overcome the technological hurdles in reaching other worlds, should we actually go there ?
Living and working on a planet such as Mars would be one of the greatest challenges humans have ever faced, not just in traveling there but in building and maintaining a habitable environment afterwards. But what of the potential to contaminate the environment with bacteria from the Earth ? Whether deliberate or accidental, contaminants brought to Mars by astronauts would have the potential to drastically affect the environment. In the far future it is even possible that the planet could be terra-formed to be more Earth-like.
"Forward contamination is a critical factor in space exploration," said John Ash from the Scott Polar Research Institute who has likened planetary exploration to drilling down in to Antarctica's hidden lakes. "Of course, it is critical not to contaminate samples that may offer scientific proof of extraterrestrial life; but there are also legal obligations."
"For humans to live on the planet for any significant period of time would require the recycling of water and air, along with other so-called "life systems"."
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Source: BBC News
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