Is there life on the surface of Mars? The clock strikes the scientists’ Windows to solve the long-standing problem of astronauts and microbes living on them contaminating the earth. Today, in NASA’s planetary science advisory committee held a conference in Washington, the agency’s new planetary protection officials proposed open the most promising areas on the planet for the possibility of a more positive exploration.

Office a few weeks later, a former bloomington, indiana university geological microbiologist Lisa Pratt, said she hopes the office can accept such a concept, that is, a certain degree of it may be necessary to explore the most livable places on the planet. Previously, the office had been a watchdog to prevent Mars and other planets from being contaminated by earth’s microbes, and vice versa. But now, given NASA’s long-term goals, time is tight, pratt said. “No matter what we do, as long as we have humans in this area, we will have a less pure state,” pratt said. “Let’s hope we know that before humans get there, anyway, if there’s an ecosystem on the surface or near it.”

While no Mars area is prohibited for exploration, international treaties specify the level of microbial contamination allowed by robotic spacecraft to be used for other planetary environments. Some scientists say the cost is too high to meet sterilization requirements to explore the potentially warm and humid “special areas” that are most likely to contain microbes on Mars. Only the Viking landers of the 1970s can reach the cleanliness required to explore a particular area. As the science department reported last year, a growing number of scientists believe the agency needs to rethink its plans.

At the end of last year, the reorganisation forced her to apply for a new job after she left NASA, the planetary protection agency, which had long supported strict enforcement standards. Some Mars scientists hope that new officials will start a new dialogue. Pratt, who led the Mars exploration and analysis team from 2013 to 2016, appears to be open. She said at the meeting that the possibility of human exploration “forces us to begin – and now has – international dialogue”.

“How do we specify,” she continued, “there are a few, a very small number, but there are a few special places on Mars, we can use the rover and landers enter now, and better ask and solve the problem. Is there a near-surface life on Mars now? We can’t just announce every interesting place. Because that means we know for the first time when we have humans. ”

However, even if is open, suggested for AlbertoFairen planetary scientists at Cornell university, is also a good news, he called for last year to reduce potential special area cleaning requirements, and lead to a strong rebuke conley and MEL. “Planetary protection officer heard the new start her tenure at the NASA announced what can only be explained by the planets Mars so far protection concepts in an interesting and the need to change, then it really is great.” He said. He added that Mr Pratt’s comments were what he had advocated, “not much, not much”.

At the same time, the office of planetary protection continues to perform its duties as usual and wishes the Mars lander, which will be launched in May, to be blessed. And continue to pay close attention to how the Mars 2020 mobile station will avoid pollution collection of rock samples. But the office will also develop modern technology to assess the burden of microbes and will seek a less aggressive relationship with NASA’s center, pratt added. “We have to do it in the way that we are helping to do it, not like we are a declining security department.”


Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash


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