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Author Topic: Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?  (Read 2319 times)

Offline thedoc

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Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?
« on: 25/09/2012 11:42:47 »
The drill bits which the Curiosity rover will use to examine Martian rocks may be contaminated with Earth life.

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« Last Edit: 25/09/2012 11:42:47 by _system »


 

Offline Boogie

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Re: Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?
« Reply #1 on: 25/09/2012 21:11:48 »
Six months wasn't enough time to re-sterilize the drills? Are you serious? And knowing ahead of time that this could cause problems and it wasn't address? Wow! And now we are crossing our fingers and praying that we don't find water, which would be a most exciting and remarkable discovery... That is kind of like hoping that you don't win the lottery because you stole the lottery ticket. Why even attempt it?

The movie Jurassic Park told us that life can and will find a way. I think there is a lot of truth to that. Even though there may not be water where we use the drill, what's to stop earth life from finding a way by riding the wind or lay dormant until water and life someday meet (maybe millions of years from now). If we are so truely concerned, why use the drills at all? If we knew about this possible contamination, why didn't we just scrub the mission and do it right?

Is "unlikely" good enough to guarantee that it's safe to continue drilling rocks without concern of contamination? I don't really think so. I think that if we already have done some drilling, then the damage is already done. Either get over it or start making plans to clean up the most difficult superfund site ever.

So if an asteroid were to strike the site where we have done drilling, what are the chances of bringing water to the surface or send spores (or whatever) into the atmosphere to drop at the poles where there might be water? Pretty good chances?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?
« Reply #2 on: 25/09/2012 21:52:25 »
I realize they had a tight timeline for the launch, and I think had missed their first launch timeline.  But, I find it amazing that they chose to do actions that they knew could contaminate parts of the rover, and then did nothing about it.

I suppose that if we send people to Mars sometime in the next 50 years, this all will be a moot point.  It may be difficult to prevent some bacteria from escaping with living humans on the planet, especially if there is an effort to build a long-term colony.
 

Offline Boogie

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Re: Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?
« Reply #3 on: 25/09/2012 22:21:56 »
I suppose that if we send people to Mars sometime in the next 50 years, this all will be a moot point.  It may be difficult to prevent some bacteria from escaping with living humans on the planet, especially if there is an effort to build a long-term colony.

I agree totally. In fact, it may already be a moot point. Were previous missions any better at contamination control? If decontaminating the drill bit in this mission was laxed, what about decontamination measures in previous missions? To shed light on this and then go on to say that if water is found, we need to stop drilling rocks is kind of silly, if you ask me. Either don't use the drill at all or stay the course and collect as much data as possible.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?
« Reply #4 on: 25/09/2012 22:41:29 »
If the primary concern is bits, then the more they use them in sterile conditions, the fewer viable spores that will be left.
 

Offline damocles

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Re: Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?
« Reply #5 on: 25/09/2012 22:52:23 »
Headlines 20 years hence -- First manned Mars mission in trouble. Crew contracts Martian 'Flu.
 

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Re: Could Curiosity contaminate Mars?
« Reply #5 on: 25/09/2012 22:52:23 »

 

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