NASA has been searching for life on Mars for decades and now it all got more complicated! The quest to send manned space missions to Mars will end in leaving traces of biological signature and temper with the ones that could be on the Red Planet.
Chris Chyba, Princeton astrobiologist said that finding life on Mars is “a ticking clock now”.
Hate Between Scientists and ‘Rocketeers’?
Will Elon Musk’s dream to send people on Mars by the mid-2020’s could pit scientists against him? It might be possible, as when people and supplies get to Mars, they could destroy the faint traces of life on the planet.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell stated that they hope to send humans to Mars within a decade and that the planet will definitely change.
There are a lot of points of views regarding this matter. Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center asked:
“How long do we scientists try to keep the contaminators off ‘our planet’?”
A reply from his colleague, Carol Stoker came immediately, saying that there should be “a finite number of investigations — a minimum of one”, in which they’d use advanced tool that detects life and sample “a few well-chosen” sites that could contain Martian life. And, ‘if it’s not life, then we have pretty good confidence that we really don’t have life on Mars, and there’s no conflict,” said Stoker. But he continued, saying that “if it is there, then we need to understand it better.”
“Until we know more, let’s be careful.”
Others that side with Mars settlement said that Martian life could be deep underground and that an isolated human activity shouldn’t be a threat. Robert Zubrin, founder and president of the nonprofit Mars Society said that “You could terraform Mars, and the microbes on Mars would survive.”
Among other scientists, there’s the theory that life from earth is already on Mars, either coming from meteorites or from the rovers from NASA, so a biological invasion has already happened.
One thing is for sure, we should be careful, as Princeton’s Chyba said in an interview. When we send humans on Mars, Chyba said that “there ought to be steps that we can take to minimize our impact. — and that will have to do both with where we land and also should have to do with technology.”