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Should we deliberately ‘infect’ Mars ?

Should we deliberately 'infect' Mars ? 1

Image Credit: NASA / Pat Rawlings

Is the contamination of Mars inevitable ? 

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.”

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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

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