This week we speak with NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer to find out if we could, and should, introduce life onto Mars. Plus we ask is a human producing Vitamin D a bit like a photosynthesising plant?.....
One of the big concerns is that we don't introduce unwanted life onto the planet until it is thoroughly studied. Thus Martian probes are assembled to be more sterile than your average surgical suite.
The question asked was "Could we introduce life on Mars in order to 'terraform' it?", to which I think the obvious answer is no.
Terraforming is still firmly in the realms of science fiction.
We've already started the process. In 1971, Mariner 9 was launched to orbit Mars. Because it was an orbiter, NASA did not sterilise it - maybe they were hoping that a manned mission would be able to retrieve it before it contaminated Mars.
There is actually a book, referenced with research articles about the possibility of contamination of Mars (sorry for preview only). It sounds like there is a high possibility that there has already been at least some Martian contamination from Earth, although the viability of some potential microbes might be limited. Others might be protected if buried. Growth of the microbes, and spread on a planetary scale would still be quite slow. CliffordK, Sun, 22nd Jul 2012
I believe there are enough extreme bacteria living here on earth, that either could survive, or could be changed to easily adapt to a martian environment, the problem is the time it would take any population's to "evolve" into higher life forms needed to complete the terra forming. I would think some plants, and insects might be genetically altered to survive if not now, in a short time if serious effort is put into the effort. But to completely terra form the whole planet in a short time is not possible considering our current technology.
It is quite possible that Mars would be incapable of supporting a terran atmosphere. That doesn't mean that it it would be incapable of supporting life. But, humans in our current form may not be able to walk outside without assistance.
There is no way any Earth organisms would be able to survive and live in Martian conditions, however modified. They are just too different. The main reason for not wanting to contaminate Mars, or anywhere else - they crashed the Galileo probe into Jupiter rather than risk accidental contamination of Europa, is to prevent false positive results if it looks as if some kind of indigenous life is found. Guthers, Mon, 30th Jul 2012
Yep, there is no way...AGREED :)
Ordinary Earth life can't survive on Mars but there are many lifeforms on Earth that have extraordinary "extremophile" capabilites and some of them could survive there just as they are right now. Some could even reproduce on Mars if they found just a small trace of melting salty brine there, maybe as thin films on the rocks, or even the sparse morning and evening dew you get at some lattitudes on Mars. The don't need oxygen and some indeed can manage fine just on salty brine and whatever minerals are in the rocks - so called "primary producers".
I don't understand. Why is it so important that we don't contaminate Mars. I understand that if we contaminate Mars it will become almost impossible to study if life ever existed on Mars... But is it really that important? Is it important enough to stop all other scientific studies on Mars? Karl Parks, Sat, 23rd Feb 2013