When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins returned from the Moon in the summer of 1969, they spent three weeks isolated in quarantine to make sure that they hadn’t brought back any microbial lifeforms from the Moon, which could prove harmful to Earth life. Later, once the Moon had been unequivocally proved to be a dead world, future Apollo missions were allowed to skip quarantine. Elsewhere in the solar system, however, NASA still has to take planetary biosecurity seriously, because life could be out there. If we bring it back to Earth, it could be a danger to us and our ecosystems. Conversely, microbial Earth life could invade a fragile alien ecosystem, destroying a newly discovered lifeform before we have the chance to study it. Imagine discovering life on Mars, only to realize that it was life we had brought there with us.Continue reading “We’re Constantly Battling Invasive Species Here on Earth. What Does That Teach us About Infecting Other Worlds With Earth Life?”
Europa is probably the best place in the Solar System to go searching for life. But before they’re launched, any spacecraft we send will need to be squeaky clean so don’t contaminate the place with our filthy Earth bacteria.
Continue reading “Will We Contaminate Europa?”