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Space & Astronomy

Should we deliberately 'infect' Mars ?

By T.K. Randall
October 1, 2019 · Comment icon 15 comments

Is the contamination of Mars inevitable ? Image Credit: NASA / Pat Rawlings
A new paper has suggested that we may have no choice but to spread microorganisms to the Red Planet.
Up until now, every space mission has involved a meticulous sterilization process designed to prevent any unwanted contaminants being spread to other worlds.

But what if the spread of microorganisms from Earth was not only unavoidable, but inevitable ?

In a new paper, scientists argue that in order for mankind to ever truly live on Mars, it will be necessary to bring along the microorganisms that our species relies on for its survival.
Not only this, but it may be beneficial to deliberately introduce such microbes in an effort to kick-start the process of terraforming the planet and ultimately make it more hospitable to humans.

"Microbial introduction should not be considered accidental but inevitable," the study authors wrote. "We hypothesize the near impossibility of exploring new planets without carrying and/or delivering any microbial travellers."

It is certainly true that on Earth, life relies on these microorganisms to survive.

"Life as we know it cannot exist without beneficial microorganisms," said study co-author Jose Lopez, a professor at Nova Southeastern University. "To survive on a barren (and as far as all voyages to date tell us) sterile planets, we will have to take beneficial microbes with us."

Perhaps in order to truly colonize an alien world, we will need to come to terms with the fact that complete sterility of the surrounding environment is more or less impossible.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (15)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by third_eye 5 years ago
Let's start a trend naming kids John Carter and Buck Rogers...  ~
Comment icon #7 Posted by jowasmus 5 years ago
I actually wanted to, but my wife knew who John & Buck are & didn't want him being made fun of. I had her convinced Daniel Jackson was a great 1st and middle name till she saw me watching Star Gate. Named him Chase instead & he's been running ever since. Told her that if she'd went for Daniel, he might have been slower.
Comment icon #8 Posted by third_eye 5 years ago
I have met a kid named "yoda" Seriously, I thought it was a nickname but it turned out his name was "You Da" or friendly great talent in Chinese  .~
Comment icon #9 Posted by Orphalesion 5 years ago
I think it's very unlikely that there is anything living on Mars, even microbes. So there is nothing on Mars to destroy, it's a dead rock in space.
Comment icon #10 Posted by moonman 5 years ago
This is not a new idea by any stretch. I remember reading about the idea to terraform the Martian atmosphere using algae way back in the early 80's - and I'm sure that idea came long before I read about it. The algae eats up all the CO2 and spits out oxygen. It would take a long, long time to show any meaningful oxygen production, or so the idea goes.
Comment icon #11 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
We need these kind of people here to sort out the mess on Earth. Earth should come first, this is where life is.  Ok to explore other planets, but thats it. We do not need to try and see if we can grow anything or live on Mars.  
Comment icon #12 Posted by Amanda Evans 5 years ago
Mars runs away screaming...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Dark_Grey 5 years ago
The first settlers will be astronauts and Scientists. The second wave will be a breakaway civilization of billionaires and elite families looking to leave a dying Earth behind.  Let's be honest: no one is going to Mars for the price of a Greyhound ticket any time soon.
Comment icon #14 Posted by qxcontinuum 5 years ago
Can we fix earth first? After terraforming Mars it'll be a few hundred million years more to become what earth is today. On mars agriculturing a seed of Tomatoe would be equally sophisticated as growing a palm tree at the north pole
Comment icon #15 Posted by tmcom 5 years ago
We can put a few microbes on mars, But the local Inhabitants won't be amused!

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