May 26, 2022

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Scientists worry that Martian rocks recovered by NASA may host strange germs

Scientists worry that Martian rocks recovered by NASA may host strange germs

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NASA plans to bring rocks from Mars to Earth. The space agency asked for public opinion on its plan to recover samples collected by Perseverance. It is a historic moment in our efforts to explore the Red Planet. Despite the excitement surrounding it, some scientists worry that alien germs might return, too.

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Scientists warn that Mars samples may contain strange germs

A concept about a Mars sample retriever that could bring alien spores to Earth

A concept about a Mars sample retriever that could bring alien spores to Earth

NASA is currently holding public meetings this week and Asking for feedback About sample retrieval plans. As it stands, the space agency is planning to land a spacecraft with samples of Mars at a US Air Force base in the early 2030s. There is still a long way to go, but some scientists warn that NASA needs to ensure we are protected from any space germs that might return as well.

“I think it’s a very small possibility that anything exists on Mars,” says Peter Doran, a geologist at Louisiana State University. “But there is a possibility.” (via NPR)

NASA’s current plan would see a container with captured samples in orbit from the planet’s surface. From there, another container will collect the sample container from orbit. From there, the samples will be delivered back to Earth so they can be studied. Again, it’s a huge step, and one we’ve been building on for a long time. But what happens if those samples contain strange germs?

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Inappropriate survival

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If you’ve watched a lot of science fiction movies, you’re probably in the camp in question. While it may seem unlikely that we’ll have to worry about alien germs affecting us on Earth, it’s always a possibility. However, Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, says any life on Mars would be unsuitable for survival on Earth.

“We’re talking about a completely different ecosystem, a completely different biosphere,” Bell says. “And of course, we don’t know if there was or was a biosphere on Mars at all.” (via NPR)

As such, the chance of any alien germs surviving on the Martian samples is low. However, NASA is not ignoring the danger. The space agency plans to take a conservative approach to bringing samples back to Earth. NASA will sterilize and contain anything that has come into direct contact with Mars.

Of course, how NASA plans to implement this plan is subject to change. And in the coming months, we can see more news about how NASA plans to deal with any strange germs that may be found. If we really want it Make Mars breatheas well as finding a way to Humans to live on Marswe will need to study those samples in more depth.

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