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Curiosity Rover May Have Brought Dozens of Microbes To Mars

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the spreading-life-probably-just-as-interesting dept.

Mars 97

bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes "Despite rigorous pre-flight cleaning, swabbing of the Curiosity Rover just prior to liftoff revealed some 377 strains of bacteria. 'In the lab, scientists exposed the microbes to desiccation, UV exposure, cold and pH extremes. Nearly 11% of the 377 strains survived more than one of these severe conditions. Thirty-one per cent of the resistant bacteria did not form tough, protective spore coats; the researchers suspect that they used other biochemical means of protection, such as metabolic changes.' While the risk of contaminating the red planet are unknown, knowing the types of strains that may have survived pre-flight cleaning may help rule out biological 'discoveries' if and when NASA carries out its plans to return a soil sample from Mars."

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Mayflower++ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044225)

Mayflower all over again.

Re:Mayflower++ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044465)

The microbes came out of Uranus.

Re:Mayflower++ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044825)

bringing Pluto-nium

What goes around comes around (5, Interesting)

mendax (114116) | about 6 months ago | (#47044241)

It has been speculated that life here on Earth came from space. And there has been speculation that this life may have come from Mars thanks to asteroid impacts ejecting material with enough energy to reach escape velocity, some of this material reaching the Earth in its early primordial history. Well, if this is the case, we're returning the favor.

Re:What goes around comes around (3, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | about 6 months ago | (#47044281)

Not just that, but by ignoring any bacteria that might have survived the trip from Earth to Mars aboard Curiosity (and presumably earlier probes all the way back to Viking) they could potentially be ruling out other strains of the same bacteria that may have made the trip by means such as impact ejecta. They are demonstrably up to the task in the lab, so potentially this could eliminate some of the most likely candidates for successful pan-spermia. If Mars is teaming with bacteria strain "foo" as a result of an earlier impact event, and "foo" just happens to have been detected on a Curiousity swab I hope there is also some plan to determine how likely it was that Curiousity was indeed responsible.

Re:What goes around comes around (5, Interesting)

mendax (114116) | about 6 months ago | (#47044381)

It just occurred to me that even if we were to find only bacteria whose ancestor's hitchhiked their way to Mars from Earth on one of our probes, that would be a remarkable find in itself. It would demonstrate that life could have existed on Mars at one time even if we don't find any native Martian bugs.

Re:What goes around comes around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47045283)

Of course the most remarkable find would be bacteria that is genetically similar to our earliest Earth bacteria. Of course proving which provided life first would be impossible.

Re:What goes around comes around (3, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 6 months ago | (#47045405)

It just occurred to me that even if we were to find only bacteria whose ancestor's hitchhiked their way to Mars from Earth on one of our probes, that would be a remarkable find in itself. It would demonstrate that life could have existed on Mars at one time even if we don't find any native Martian bugs.

A mars rover is encapsulated during travel, so bacteria do not experience UV radiation and solar wind they would on other bodies (meteoroids).

Re:What goes around comes around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47048031)

But meteorites etc can have rough surfaces, cracks, hollows... in short they could also encapsulate bacteria to the same extent as a spacecraft - which is not 100%, plenty of radiation makes it through (enough that astronauts can see flashing lights when they close their eyes).

And whatever it does/doesn't prove about transit, it shows the bacteria can survive in the environment on the Martian surface, and if thet can others could too.

Re:What goes around comes around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47050383)

It would also show that life could have existed in interplanetary space.

Re:What goes around comes around (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 6 months ago | (#47045415)

Not just that, but by ignoring any bacteria that might have survived the trip from Earth to Mars aboard Curiosity (and presumably earlier probes all the way back to Viking) they could potentially be ruling out other strains of the same bacteria that may have made the trip by means such as impact ejecta.

You can always later on send new probes to another part of Mars that do not have these strains, and get a sample from there. Mars' conditions are not exactly to make these bacteria thrive globally.

Re:What goes around comes around (4, Insightful)

flyneye (84093) | about 6 months ago | (#47044911)

Did someone bother to send some food for the bacteria? Enough to sustain bacteria long enough for them to evolve the ability to eat non-organic material?
No need to worry, the sky is not falling and Mars is not going to be overrun with Earth critters.

Re:What goes around comes around (5, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | about 6 months ago | (#47044999)

Did someone bother to send some food for the bacteria?

They will be eagerly waiting for the first manned mission to Mars...

Re:What goes around comes around (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 6 months ago | (#47052041)

I eagerly await the Hollywood 3d IMAX release, just cause it hasta combine elements of Godzilla and Alien.

Re:What goes around comes around (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | about 6 months ago | (#47046887)

More specific, perhaps it came from marrs before the Martian atmosphere boiled off.

Re:What goes around comes around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47048251)

Where are the Martians saying, "Hello, Columbus!"

Re:What goes around comes around (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#47057579)

It has been speculated that life here on Earth came from space.

Not to be pedantic (OK, to be pedantic), but everything on Earth came from space.

Pretty much anything more complicated that hydrogen had to be created in a star which eventually went nova. Heck, even our water came from constant bombardment of comets and the like.

Despite what some people like to think, the Earth didn't just spring into existence fully formed.

Me, I've always thought it highly unlikely we're the only things to slither out of the mud in the entire universe.

Mars Has Lawyers (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#47044259)

...we're screwed

Re: Mars Has Lawyers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044375)

Dammit. We're going to be on the hook for 100 billion years of child support. Time to call Adam Sachs.

Re: Mars Has Lawyers (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#47048489)

Just tell them to bill Uranus.

Achievement (2)

savuporo (658486) | about 6 months ago | (#47044267)

First properly documented interplanetary flight sent by us, with biological specimens on board ! Pity we didnt measure the effect of zero-g or deep space radiation on these.

Next up, amoebas and molluscs to mars ! With the current pace, maybe in next couple thousand years we'll send rhesus monkeys at some point.

Re:Achievement (4, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | about 6 months ago | (#47044357)

First properly documented interplanetary flight sent by us, with biological specimens on board ! Pity we didnt measure the effect of zero-g or deep space radiation on these.

It's actually assumed that every probe that is sent will have some form of bacteria and so forth on it; life is just so pervasive on this planet that it's impossible to perfectly sterilize everything. Instead, the goal is to strongly sterilize what's critical and exposed to the environment, and reduce the probability of accidental contamination to an acceptable level (currently defined to be in the neighbourhood of 1 in 10,000 chance).

Re:Achievement (4, Interesting)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 6 months ago | (#47046319)

To add to this, also sterilize it to practical limits given danger to the flight hardware. Many of the early Ranger lunar-impact missions had hardware failures on the way, eventually strongly suspected to have been caused by damage due to heat-sterilization:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/n... [nasa.gov]

          Once they backed off on the degree of sterilization, the rate of random failures dropped dramatically.

Re:Achievement (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#47044797)

I don't know how well the two sample sets overlap; but there have definitely been experiments in earth orbit on the effects of zero gravity, radiation, and hard vacuum, in various combinations. Some organisms do surprisingly well.

Experiment proposal (2)

Dorianny (1847922) | about 6 months ago | (#47044269)

Why isn't anyone proposing a experiment where we send extremophile bacteria we believe can survive on mars and find out if in fact they can survive or perhaps even thrive under the harsh martian conditions. This would have huge implications for our search for extra terrestrial life, it would mean that its very likely mars already harbors life from earth that hitchhiked on a meteorite and even more importantly it would mean that life as we know it, needs goldilocks planet conditions only for so long as it takes to develop the genetic tool-set to deal with extreme environments, from where its than able to go on an colonize planets we currently believe are inhospitable to life as we know it.

Re:Experiment proposal (1)

Stardner (3660081) | about 6 months ago | (#47044311)

Mars Terraforming Project - Stage 1: Culture vast quantities of methanogens to warm the red planet with an organic haze. :)

Re:Experiment proposal (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 6 months ago | (#47044813)

I'm not an expert on this by any means but I think the problem might be available Nitrogen, given what I saw from the atmospheric and regolith analyses that came out of the early Curiosity experiments. Perhaps someone who knows what they are talking about would care to comment?

Re:Experiment proposal (2)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 6 months ago | (#47044315)

If we introduce life it becomes much harder to say any life we find in the future isn't just contamination we brought with us.

Re:Experiment proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044391)

At that point, why would it matter? If we couldn't tell where the life came from, why would it matter where it came from?

Re:Experiment proposal (3, Informative)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 6 months ago | (#47044419)

???

Because it has a lot of implications about how life gets started on a planet which is an important line of investigation for science, isn't that obvious?

Re:Experiment proposal (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about 6 months ago | (#47045207)

Such an experiment is directly at odds with terraforming. Figuring out which simple (yet useful) life foms can survive both the trip and the environment is one step that can be taken. Since colonization of Mars is the best chance we have at putting some of our eggs in another basket, figuring out what we can put there to start the process of changing the atmospheric composition to be more human-friendly would seem to be a worthy experiment as well.

Re:Experiment proposal (2)

stealth_finger (1809752) | about 6 months ago | (#47044395)

If we introduce life it becomes much harder to say any life we find in the future isn't just contamination we brought with us.

If it's shooting laser guns at us, chances are it was already there.

Re:Experiment proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044837)

I think we can safely say that life doesn't exist on Mars. Once life gets a hold somewhere it has a tendency to evolve and occupy all possible locations of a planet. If there had been life on Mars for a significant time there would be plenty of evidence for it.

I am still open to the idea of waiting a little bit longer until we start to seriously contaminate Mars but we seriously need to set a time where we say that we have decided that there is no life there.
Otherwise we are stuck with the same kind of problem we have with statements like "There is a God". You can never disprove the existence of a God by looking at a place, because he can always be somewhere else. Your only option to get a final result is to find the God and point at him. It is a statement that can be proved but not disproved.

Same thing with life on Mars. It is always possible to claim that "You didn't look over there." when someone says that there is no life on Mars. You can't prove that there is no life, only prove that there is by finding it.

Sooner or later we have to say that if you can't show that there is life on Mars within the next decade then we can't let it be in the way of further experiments.

Re:Experiment proposal (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#47045539)

So Mars doesn't have big animals roaming the landscape or vast forests of plants. It doesn't have rivers, lakes, and oceans filled with marine animals. It doesn't even have moss growing across the surface. This doesn't mean that Mars is devoid of life. Perhaps the surface of Mars is completely inhospitable and so the life moved underground. We've dug into deep rocks on Earth and found bacteria that exist deep in the rocks which don't even need oxygen to survive. There could be a Martian equivalent to this deep under the Martian surface. Our rovers might not have dug deep enough to reach these.

Just because we haven't *found* any life doesn't mean there *isn't* any life.

Re:Experiment proposal (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | about 6 months ago | (#47044913)

I guess the point is that if these organisms can survive the trip to Mars then we will never be certain if a discovered species on Mars came from us or developed independently. Genetic analysis could help but there still might be uncertainty. Now we know there is a non-zero chance of survival maybe we should stop worrying about contamination and get on with some terra-forming, so that the planet might be more hospitable by the time we are able to send people there.

Re:Experiment proposal (4, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 6 months ago | (#47045093)

It's easy enough to simulate martian conditions here on earth, which is a more controlled and far cheaper means of experiment. It was found that certain lichen can do quite well [liebertpub.com] , although note that this was on the assumption that water would be available.

It would probably be best not to introduce earth microbes before a full terraforming plan is developed. The population might explode, consume all the available micronutrients, and then die off. Or it might become a pest, inhibiting the release of other, more useful microorganisms later on. And it might obscure any extant martian microorganisms or micoorganism fossils when those could provide a far better template than earth-based extremophiles. We'll want something robust and sustainable, a planned ecosystem genetically engineered to produce all the right byproducts and which changes in concert with the alterations to atmosphere, global temperature, and soil composition without any unintended extinction events.

Re:Experiment proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47049775)

There are no extremeophile bacteria that can survive on mars. What are you people smoking? Bacteria will need to survive PERMANENTLY and ADAPT and REPRODUCE in order to truly survive. We have nothing on this planet that can do that. If we did and such a organism existed it would in all likelihood already be on mars! Going into sleep/hibernation and then dying in 30 days to a year is NOT surviving. A bacteria being in a protected state until it is guaranteed to die without ever reproducing, growing or eating food let alone having food to eat is NOT surviving.

Oh great ! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044287)

Not even living there yet but we already shat everywhere on the carpet !

Policy for Planetary Protection (5, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | about 6 months ago | (#47044291)

JPL actually has a highly detailed document on "Policy for Planetary Protection" that details the standards to which a probe must be sanitized to before being sent on its mission. The level of cleanliness depends on the intended mission and target; orbiters have a lesser standard than landers, for example. The policy also takes into account different parts of the spacecraft; the inside of the box containing the CPU and so forth isn't cleaned to as high of a standard as the wheels, experiments and so forth that are directly exposed to the environment. In the case of the Galileo probe, it was deliberately crashed into Jupiter at the end of mission in order to ensure it would never impact Europa, as it had not been cleaned to that high of a standard. Cassini will face a parallel fate, of crashing into Saturn to prevent a collision with Enceladus and/or Titan.

The key part here is that when you are looking for life (or might be looking for life in the near future) you don't want to discover that the life is found is something that you brought from earth yourself, or was brought by another space probe.

Re:Policy for Planetary Protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044415)

JPL has standards, but China and India may not. Life & bacteria exist outside USA

Re:Policy for Planetary Protection (3, Interesting)

Strider- (39683) | about 6 months ago | (#47044441)

The policy is under the auspices of the Outer Space Treaty, which has been ratified by both China and India (along with the United States). Given that the Scientists and Engineers who tend to be involved in these projects are generally rational people (even if they're doing a politician's bidding), I'd say that the chance of things being done reasonably correctly are good.

Re:Policy for Planetary Protection (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044531)

Here is a link to a newspaper with images of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) clean room where the Mars orbiter was assembled. Compared to NASA's cleanroom, this may not be very clean. They might bake out the satellite, but life is tough.

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/indias-october-28-mars-mission-on-schedule-isro/article5204371.ece

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/jpl/news/msl20100916.html

Re:Policy for Planetary Protection (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#47044799)

Do the staff refer to this policy as "The Prime Directive" informally?

Re:Policy for Planetary Protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47046043)

Yes, in fact, they do.

Re:Policy for Planetary Protection (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 6 months ago | (#47044845)

To begin with, the article is speculation:

>although no one knows for sure whether the bacteria survived the inter-planetary ride.

> The key part here is that when you are looking for life

You should be able to tell if the life is extra-terrestrial without arbitrarily excluding possibility of contamination.

For example, I do not need a whole history of specimen to determine if genome sequence was contaminated. There are computer programs that will do that fairly easily.

Re:Policy for Planetary Protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47048945)

Which is really sad. Thanks these people, we may miss our window to spread life outside this planet before our civilization inevitability collapses.

And thus, terraforming has begun (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 6 months ago | (#47044293)

Terraforming has begun. With some luck, there were one or two microbes that can do photosynthesis. Plenty of CO2 on Mars.
Yes, it will take a really long time, but we had to start at some point, right? Good job, NASA.

Re:And thus, human terraforming is a joke. (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#47044533)

You call that Terraforming? Hint: You sit right between the orbits of Venus and Mars.

Venus has sulfuric acid clouds. Mars has a surface covered in iron oxide.
3H2SO4 + Fe2O3 -> 3H2O + Fe2(SO4)3; Sulfuric acid + Iron Oxide = Water and Iron Sulfate salt.

That's not "Terraforming", it's a simple riddle any sufficiently advanced species in your situation could solve if they needed a bit more elbow room.
You solve this basic trans-atmospheric endeavor and you can move onto the next step towards solving the Fermi Paradox (but let's leave the Asteroid Belt and Oort Cloud out of this).

I honestly can't fathom know how much more blatant we can be! Look, JPL's Spirit rover is now forever stuck in what?
Iron Sulfate... Hello? McFly?! It's sad, but we have to face the fact that you may not ever be able to take a hint.
Ugh, humans. Can't live with 'em, can't take 'em off the endangered sentience list.

Re:And thus, terraforming has begun (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044795)

No, actually not plenty of CO2 on Mars. The atmosphere on Mars is first and foremost thin.

Re:And thus, terraforming has begun (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#47045103)

You're forgetting that Mars has 0.6% the surface pressure of Earth, which is actually very little CO2 at all. Even Total Recall had the sense to show the Martian terraforming equipment cracking a reservour of water ice to produce the oxygen it would need.

Re:And thus, terraforming has begun (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 6 months ago | (#47045503)

True. The total pressure is much lower on Mars. However, the CO2 partial pressure is higher:

On Earth, we have a total of 1 bar, and 0.04% of that is CO2. That means a CO2 partial pressure of 0.0004 bar CO2, or 0.4 mbar CO2.
On Mars, there is a total of 6 mbar pressure, but 96% of that is CO2. That means a CO2 partial pressure of 0.0058 bar CO2, or 5.8 mbar CO2, almost 15 times as much CO2.

The plants may lack everything else (they do need the other gases in the atmosphere, I know, and liquid water in the soil). But just maybe some really tough microorganisms can survive.

Re:And thus, terraforming has begun (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#47046225)

That's plenty of CO2 if all you want to do is photosynthesise, but the whole point of terraforming is to get the atmosphere up to a reasonable partial pressure of oxygen. Whereas pre-photosynthetic Earth had bags of CO2, the amount on Mars has is not going to be sufficient.

And thus, terraforming has begun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47052547)

Reminds me of a Sci-Fi story I read years ago.

In it an astronaut discovers life at the Martian poles. Real alien stuff, not sentient, but clearly native Martian. He accidentally contaminates the area with Earth microbes and the Earth stuff immediately starts to out-compete the domestic flora. Without knowing it the astronaut has doomed the Martian life to extinction and he's the last (and first) person to witness native Martian lifeforms. Alive, that is.

I've no idea who wrote it or the name of the piece.

Good Going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044299)

Now Mars is going to be contaminated with MRSA, isn't it? At least our probes aren't handing blankets over to the natives.

The folly of humans (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#47044363)

angering the god of war is never good.

Re:The folly of humans (1)

Nephandus (2953269) | about 6 months ago | (#47044657)

What's he going to do? Run back to Zeus and whine again till he gets sterilized?

Re:The folly of humans (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#47045651)

You should learn the difference between romans and greeks.

Re:The folly of humans (1)

Nephandus (2953269) | about 6 months ago | (#47054153)

Spindoctored state propaganda. Ignore that in mythology. It's where culture goes to die. Romans quickly became boring and predictable. Politics turned Set and Baal into their own enemies, while the Egyptians and a certain sect of pretentious self-hating Canaanites became boring and predictable. It's a pattern. When Christendom ate paganism, what did we get? Spindoctored state propaganda with a boring and predictable abortion as/of a culture.

Re:The folly of humans (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#47044803)

What's he going to do, turn his back on his best customers?

Oil, ho! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044369)

The microbes will evolve into petroleum! Launch the American invasion of Mars!! Boots on the ground before the Chinese! Mars belongs to Bushbama!!!!!!!!! Support our motherfucking Troops, motherfuckers!!!!!!

Mission Accomplished (1)

stealth_finger (1809752) | about 6 months ago | (#47044379)

Life found on Mars!

Maybe in a billion years, when the sun has expanded a bit and mars is a bit warmer, gets an atmosphere somehow and honest to god martians are looking at the dead blue world and wondering if it ever harbored life.

What about the moon? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 6 months ago | (#47044401)

Please tell me we didn't send microbes to the moon, too. Just think of the consequences.

Re:What about the moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044421)

The microbes fashion harpoons and develop a whaling tradition?

Re:What about the moon? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 6 months ago | (#47044599)

The microbes fashion harpoons and develop a whaling tradition?

No, but I think you might be on the right track.

Since they were American microbes, chances are some McMicrobes survived.

Therefore, our biggest fear now is the moon getting too fat for its own orbit, quite possibly crashing into the Earth.

Oh, the irony in that demise...damn McFries.

Re:What about the moon? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 6 months ago | (#47044519)

Can't be worse than when we send doge there.

The stuff of sci-fi. (2)

Balinares (316703) | about 6 months ago | (#47044487)

Turns out we are the Great Ancients from a million years ago that came from the cosmos to seed life. Whatever species ends up evolving there will dig into their past with wonder and trepidation to discover who we were. And then they'll find out about Honey Boo Boo. Ah, to be a fly on the wall... :)

Re:The stuff of sci-fi. (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 6 months ago | (#47044491)

If these microbes ever evolve to something as intelligent as us humans, their archaeologists will have quite some explaining to do when they dig up the Curiosity rover.

Re:The stuff of sci-fi. (3, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | about 6 months ago | (#47044565)

If these microbes ever evolve to something as intelligent as us humans, their archaeologists will have quite some explaining to do when they dig up the Curiosity rover.

Yes, I seem to recall a similar race standing about staring at these insanely accurate pyramid-shaped structures.

You have a pretty extreme example by comparison there, too.

We can't explain how rocks got stacked so precisely thousands of years later.

Them finding Curiosity would be equal to us finding a 10,000-year old Tesla Roadster sitting in a monastery garage right next to the cold fusion fridge.

Re:The stuff of sci-fi. (2)

Sique (173459) | about 6 months ago | (#47044607)

We actually can explain how rocks got stacket so precisely. Polishing a plane surface is a tedious act, yes. But you don't need any fancy equipment to do it, just much time at hand.

Re:The stuff of sci-fi. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#47045583)

Polishing a plane surface is a tedious act, yes. But you don't need any fancy equipment to do it, just much time at hand.

And, when you have thousands upon thousands of slaves working for you, man-hours dedicated to a project isn't a problem.

Re:The stuff of sci-fi. (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 6 months ago | (#47045383)

No way. With Earth's heavy, thick atmosphere, boiling-hot average temperature and lack of life-giving ultraviolet rays, life there would be impossible.

Re:The stuff of sci-fi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47046081)

There was a Ray Bradbury (?) short on that topic many years ago. Can't find it now. It was hilarious.

Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044583)

Aren't they worried about sending probes and the like to Europa because of this reason?

But then it got me thinking, wouldn't the immense radiation emitted from Jupiter kill any bacterial organisms?

Great (2)

gaiageek (1070870) | about 6 months ago | (#47044585)

So if humans ever do populate Mars, they'll face strains of bacteria which even NASA can't kill. Wouldn't this make an argument for not going to such extremes to try to rid such rovers of any and all bacteria?

Re:Great (1)

Bongo (13261) | about 6 months ago | (#47044683)

Just send the old people who managed to survive a stay in a British NHS hospital.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47049815)

What a huge assumption to make. Space is meant to kill life, not other life. The idea that any and all aliens that come to us are going to enslave us, or that EVERY organism not found on Earth will kill us all quickly is SCIENCE FICTION. FANTASY.

Pre-emptive strike (1)

RDW (41497) | about 6 months ago | (#47044721)

'In another moment I had scrambled up the earthen rampart and stood upon its crest, and the interior of the redoubt was below me. A mighty space it was, with gigantic machines here and there within it, huge mounds of material and strange shelter places. And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians--dead!--slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things--taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many--those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance--our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.'


Well, at least this has saved us from the Heat Ray, the Black Smoke and the Red Weed. The Martians should have invaded back in 1897 when they had a chance.

Taken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044725)

Taken, not brought. That is all.

The Soviets did not sterilize their landers (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47044779)

There were some (only slightly) successful Soviet Mars landers. They were not sterilized at all.

Re:The Soviets did not sterilize their landers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47046605)

There were no microbes on Soviet equipment. It was a very strict regime.

Re:The Soviets did not sterilize their landers (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 6 months ago | (#47050913)

Source please. Everything I'm seeing says the Soviet Mars landers were sterilized to prevent contamination.

So.... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 6 months ago | (#47044987)

It was a small step for a bacteria, but a giant leap for bugs.

Mars' leader responds... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 6 months ago | (#47045053)

"Ack-Ack!"

Re:Mars' leader responds... (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 6 months ago | (#47046343)

Eric the Midget is King of Mars??

Re:Mars' leader responds... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 6 months ago | (#47046399)

Eric the Midget is King of Mars??

That would totally explain Eric... ;>)

Well, I doubt the russians were so careful by then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47045237)

Russian probe "Mars 3" landed in 1972. I really doubt they cared that much about this as now. In 42 years, a lot of things can happen in the bacterial world.

Re:Well, I doubt the russians were so careful by t (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 6 months ago | (#47050899)

The USSR also signed the outer space treaty, and made every effort to sterilize according to their obligations.

Seed your planet! (1)

LaughingVulcan (3511853) | about 6 months ago | (#47045595)

SEED IT!!!!!!!

pre-emptively deflecting criticism (1)

Synonymous Homonym (1901660) | about 6 months ago | (#47046049)

If native life on Mars is found, they will say: "But it was created here."

"Life here began out there." (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 6 months ago | (#47046431)

"All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again." Though probably the first time it was the last-minute waste dump out from the departing ship . . .

When we invade Mars... (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 6 months ago | (#47047329)

...it will be the descendants of these microbes that kill us. But still, we go. Uuuuu-laaaaaa!

We should have sent blankets (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 6 months ago | (#47047613)

If we were going to contaminate the Martians we should do it right and send them blankets laced with smallpox. Hey, it worked before.

Perchlorates will take care of them (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 6 months ago | (#47048007)

It is extremely unlikely that any bugs that made the passage from Earth to Mars on the rover will survive on the surface of Mars and propagate. The perchlorates in the soil are a super oxidizer that will gobble them up. The surface of Mars may be more hostile to life than space.

Good (1)

Rix (54095) | about 6 months ago | (#47049223)

We should be sending samples there, to try to find one that can thrive. Once we do, spread it liberally over the surface.

At least not manned (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 6 months ago | (#47051747)

The rovers were contaminated. Ok, but at least it was limited contamination, unlike what would happen if we sent people to mars. We really need to search the planet for life before we send people, the risks are too high otherwise. Risks: 1-Once you contaminate Mars finding life becomes orders of magnitude harder. 2-If you bring something back you might kill us all (we would have no biological defenses). 3-Moral values. Wiping out martian life by dumping our microbes onto them is Evil.

GOOD (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | about 6 months ago | (#47053285)

In my opinion, we should be _populating_ planets, not keeping them sterile. We can do worthwhile science, watching low level life forms adapt to martian life.

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