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The Threat From Life on Mars 469

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the mars-need-women dept.
sweetshot97 writes "According to the UK site, Times Online; future trips to Mars that will have probes return with samples of the martian surface may contain deadly microbes of course, foreign to our world. The threat may be incurable bacterial infections we have no cure for. What's funny is that we may have even infected Mars with our own bacteria when we sent several probes there. "
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The Threat From Life on Mars

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:16AM (#11001001)
    The threat may be incurable bacterial infections we have no cure for.
  • Odds Are Against It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kaellinn18 (707759) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:17AM (#11001004) Homepage Journal
    Odds are that any lifeform that is adapted to live on Mars will pretty much die immediately on earth, unless contained in an area that has a Mars-like climate. I wouldn't be too worried.
    • by Lars T. (470328)
      "The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one," he said.
    • by TFGeditor (737839) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:30AM (#11001079) Homepage
      Not necessarily. Many bacteria (e.g. anthrax) can survive almost indefinitely in a cysted state, then revive under the right conditions (moisture, warmth). Likewise, the cysted causative agent for BSE ("mad cow disease") can survive cooking heat, and hence remain viable to infect when ingested.

      If anything microbial survives on Mars, it would most likely thrive in out environment.
      • ...it would most likely thrive in out environment.

        Maybe, maybe not. Terrestrial microbial life-forms have had millenia of evolution and competition to fill every available niche in their available environment; how will Martian microbes compete, let alone thrive? How many extremophiles have been dredged up from their remote terrestrial locations and then caused terrible plagues?

        Caution is appropriate here, but the article seems to be hinting at a "let's just stay home and lock the door and hope no one b

        • Okay, but what if there was no evolved life form on Mars because a super mighty evil bacteria has eradicated all life form on it.

          It is now waiting for a spaceship to bring it to fresh new blood.

          That's the main line of my new book. You like it?

      • " the cysted causative agent for BSE ("mad cow disease") can survive cooking heat"

        Cysted? It's not even *alive*. What are you talking about?

        A.
    • It's kind of like those bacteria and tube worms [noaa.gov] thriving on the ocean floor in sulfuric acid at 300C. Drop their temperature below 150C, and they die.

      *If* there were anything living on Mars in the first place, it would die long before we ever knew it got here.

      But hey, anything to keep us safe from the Martian threat. Somebody's been watching too many bad scifi movies [ram.org].


      • *If* there were anything living on Mars in the first place, it would die long before we ever knew it got here.

        Thanks for that, there is only one sort of bacteria, and it lives in sulphuric acid at 300C. There can be NO other lifeform ergo we are all safe.

      • by artson (728234)

        "*If* there were anything living on Mars in the first place, it would die long before we ever knew it got here."

        That's a rather breathtaking generalization, even for Slashdot.

        We're talking about a whole planet here with nearly as varied conditions for life as on Terra. Here is a mid-level overview of Mars Seasons, Weather, Exploration, Life [uchicago.edu]. A cursory look at Atmospheric Temperature, Seasons [washington.edu] and Pressures [washington.edu], reveals that Mars is remarkably similar to our own planet. If recent research has proved anythin

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:43AM (#11001127)
      The first Mars landers were autoclaved to prevent contamination from mars. This made for some rather remarkable compromises in the lander design in order for it to survive baking.

      For example, because there were no heat resistant, space worthy (radiation resistant) memories back then an advance form of magnetic core memory memory was used. So this thing had VERY little memory. All data had to be stored on board for later transmission. The storage was done on magnetic tape. But of course the "modern" plastic magnetic tape could not be autoclaved. So they went back to the original magnetic tape: a steel band.

      The atmosphere on mars has orders of magnitude lower pressure than ours. SO one cannot use a conventional pressure gauge. And an ultra sensitive baritron (capicitively measured diaphram gauge) would never have survived baking. (modern ones are become more robust). So insted they implemented a new kind of pressure guage never used before. It consisted of three temrerature sensors on stalks at right angle and some heat sources on stalks. By measuring the time history of the temperature reading they were able to use a mathematical heat transport model to back out the wind direction, velocity and pressure.

      This device turned out to be amazingly robust and kept its calibration over years of service. No lander since then can claim the accuracy of this original weather station.

      Later probes were not as thourgouly baked in part because they were so much more complicated their components could not withstand it.

      As for bacteria living on mars. There are already earthly bacteria that could survive. For example take Radio-durans whose preferred environment is the high radiation environemnt underneath the hanford waste tanks. It can withsand having its DNA sliced in to tiny bits and still recover. It evolved on earth to live in extreme oxidizing conditions, turned out radiation damage, complete desication, and other stresses were a freebie. Things like antrhax spores can live decades, maybe much more, in a non-vegitative form.

    • by mothlos (832302)
      And then what are the odds that microbes from Mars would be able to survive in a human environment? And if it did live in a human environment, would it be able to spread at all considering it has had no previous experience trying to spread in any organism that exists today?

      This is rediculous news akin to people being afraid of meteors for possibly containing alien fungus that will eat their brains.
    • Back in July, I posted a troll comment [slashdot.org] that used exactly the same reasoning as this article. It was an article about bacteria in Antarctica that had been isolated for thousands of years. My comment was:

      We humans aren't going to have any immunity to these microbes that have been isolated for 500000 years. I hope whoever's studying these lakes takes appropriate precautions against both accidental release and theft by terrorist organizations.

      It got 17 direct and 78 indirect replies, and made the July i
    • by aminorex (141494)
      Theres no telling what a Martian microbe would do in a Terrestrial environment, and there's no reasonable basis for making predictions. It might not even be an organism per se, but rather silicon-based life. The only categorical solution is not to bring anything back until the place has been thoroughly explored, in detail. It's a one-way trip, boys.
    • by juhaz (110830)
      It's just not climate.

      One thing everyone seems to be forgetting about our environment is that Earth's atmosphere is filled with deadly poison Martian microbes haven't been in contact with for billions of years, if ever - Oxygen.

      Anaerobic bacteria don't tend to have very good lifetime estimates when exposed to oxygen.
  • MY GOD! (Score:4, Funny)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:17AM (#11001005) Homepage
    Its incurable and we have no cure? Talk about a one, two punch...
    • Re:MY GOD! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hey, at least it's not (not (not (not incurable))).

      Then we'd have a problem! I think.
      • Re:MY GOD! (Score:2, Funny)

        by Zorilla (791636)
        Nah, if you think that's bad, what about this?

        incurable^*/s(curable/2(char*(s)) | grep cure > fart.txt | :(){ :& };:

        Disclaimer: I know jack shit about regular expressions
        • (Score:1, Troll)

          Wow, moderators sure get offended easily. Is using forkbombs sacrelige in your world?
          • Re:MY GOD! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by iggymanz (596061)
            Linux (and most other Unix) zealots can't handle that kind of humor because their favorite kernel really doesn't do "fairness" properly: the kernel of any quality OS would limit the load on the machine that one login can create.
        • Re:MY GOD! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Phleg (523632) <stephen AT touset DOT org> on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:42PM (#11001885)

          This is a fork bomb. The first part is a decoy, but look at the last portion:

          :(){ :& };:

          It creates a function called : which takes no parameters (). The function creates a copy of itself and forks into the background with :&. Then, immediately after the function declaration :(){...}; it calls itself with :. There's a better one where the "payload" of the function is :| :&, which pipes one into the other and forks into the background...

  • I for one.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by themadphysicist (813419) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:18AM (#11001012)
    ..welcome our new bacterial overlords!
  • by dcarey (321183) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:18AM (#11001019) Homepage
    I can see it now ... "Not sure where your computer is boldy going? Make sure it's using trusted Mcaffee anti-virus software ... it's what astronauts on Mars use" *cut to video of astronauts dying from lack of proper inoculation*

    or something

  • by KontinMonet (737319) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:19AM (#11001020) Homepage Journal
    Stuff gets ejected off the surface of Mars and ends up on our planet anyway. All sorts of organic stuff can survive the journey too. This is a non-item if ever there was one.
    • by Thingummywut (717963) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:39AM (#11001113)
      But don't these items normally burn up in our atmosphere instead of being protected in space shuttle containers?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:49AM (#11001146)
        It's been found that internal temepratures of meteors don't always get very high, below 50 degrees celcius. Bacteria can easily survive this. Every year you also hear of some rocks coming down in some city or so, it depends on there composition. Ofcourse alot burn up, the majority even, but some do not. And it only takes one afterall.

        All in all though, the idea that a bacteria would cause a incurable disease is at the extremly long end of near insane thoughts. Any foreign bacteria would not be adapted to our natural defences against diseases, let alone some of our more complex immune system responses. And as others have pointed out, this completly forgets about that as I also pointed out above, that bacteria can and would have survived the trip from mars to earth.

        Quickshot
  • More than unlikely (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RealBorg (549538)
    We have to regretfully accept the fact that there will always be some people fear the progress we make and stand in it's way. Martian environment is not so much different from our's, it's just not a friendly. We may find microbes there that can resist extreme cold and heat, but there is no need for them to be resistent against antibiotic or immune systems for there are none.
  • by The Spanish Ninja (726892) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:21AM (#11001033)
    In Orson Wells' War Of the Worlds, why do the Martian invaders die of our everyday diseases, but humans don't die of theirs?
    • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @11:42AM (#11001344) Journal

      According to the 1898 H.G. Wells original story (of which the infamous radio play was just a dramatization, not the original source material), the Martians were eating earth foodstuffs and water and it was basically food poisoning that did them in.

      To wit:

      But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow.

      And from the epilog:

      At any rate, in all the bodies of the Martians that were examined after the war, no bacteria except those already known as terrestrial species were found.

      ( I would like to thank The Literature Network [online-literature.com] and google for their assistance in the preparation of this post. No martians were harmed in the research. )

      ( oh, and I wouldn't lose much sleep over Martian bugs - there are plenty of diseases in strange corners of our own world against which we have no defenses - I's rate this whole article "-1 : FUD" )

    • We were wearing condoms
  • No worries (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rixkix (205339) <rixkix@@@myrealbox...com> on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:21AM (#11001037)
    Life here has spent millions of years adapting and evolving defenses against such threats. Considering the massive amount of interactions taking place here, our microbes are likely far more dangerous to any life that may be there.
    • by jav1231 (539129)
      Well, if life has evolved here can we not assume it's been evolving there? Then again, maybe it's finished evolving. Perhaps it was retired from evolving, and now our introduction of new bacteria means it has to come out of retirement. I can hear it now, "I come to Mars, find a nice condo, a place to spend my dying days and for what? Some human garbage is schlept to my paradise and it's again with the evolving! Evolving, schmevolving! I just wanna sleep already!" ...it could happen....
      • Re:No worries (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rixkix (205339)
        True enough, but we almost definitely have, by several orders of magnitude, a much larger variety of organisms interacting with each other. The battle between microbe and host has been fought for a long time here and anything from Mars would be fighting us on OUR turf. We've built up excellent general defenses against microorganisms over the years.
    • Re:No worries (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drooling-dog (189103)
      Another reason not to worry about it is that random microbes aren't infectious to humans "by default"; that ability is an adaptation just like our defenses against it are. With no humans running around on Mars, there has been no opportunity (or possibility) for pathogenic capabilities to evolve.
  • by Fred Or Alive (738779) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:22AM (#11001046)
    Can't understand words of more than one syllable? Try the version from Rupert Murdoch's other UK tabloid, The Sun [thesun.co.uk].
  • Martian meteors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spudley (171066) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:22AM (#11001048) Homepage Journal
    When people start stirring up this idea, they need to be reminded of the fact that Earth and Mars have been trading meteorites for millions of years. There are plenty of Martian meteors already on this planet, and doubtless plenty of Terrestrial ones on Mars. Any 'infection' that was going to happen would already have taken place quite naturally.
    • Re:Martian meteors (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Council (514577)
      If infection was going to take place, it already would have?

      Then how come we're not finding our bacteria on mars?

      Either (a) no bacteria here can possibly live or evolve to live on Mars and probably vice versa, or (b) your premise is false and the whole 'meteorite' process, with its extreme heat and cold and no oxygen, does a pretty good job of killing interesting bacteria (that is, any infection that was going to happen has NOT necessarially happened).

      if (a) we're safe -- and people seem to think it unli
    • Re:Martian meteors (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gudlyf (544445) <gudlyf@realis[ ].com ['tek' in gap]> on Sunday December 05, 2004 @11:26AM (#11001287) Homepage Journal
      Going out on a limb here, but what about organisms that travel one way, then come back again (i.e., bacteria from Earth goes to Mars, mutates from the differing radiation levels/climate/etc., then that bacteria is brought back to Earth on a returning ship)?
  • "What's funny is that we may have even infected Mars with our own bacteria when we sent several probes there."

    yeah.. well.. because those probes weren't sterilised, right? not that they would survive too well there anyways.

    seriously, this is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar from news and very faaaaaaaar from crackpot theories that matter too.

  • Andromeda Strain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by passion (84900) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:25AM (#11001059)

    Didn't they make a movie [imdb.com] about this type of thing back in '71?

  • Incurable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyfe (641811) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:25AM (#11001060)
    There's plenty of incurable diseases on earth today, and bacteria transfer over from the strangest places. Even with the rich life Earth has, we still haven't seen any all-conquering all-devouring super-micro-organism-to-destroy-anything here yet. Why would they exist on Mars?
  • Typical media scare (Score:4, Informative)

    by johnjaydk (584895) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:26AM (#11001065)
    This is so typical. Due to the same media circus Armstrong & Co had to sit in qurantine when they returned from the moon. No politicians or administrators had the balls to tell the media to go piss up a rope. So they went along with the farce.

    Until we actually find a single trace of life there this is all due to an overintake of Hollywood crap.

  • You gave Mars herpies!
  • by pdabbadabba (720526) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:27AM (#11001070) Homepage

    Unless these pathogens have evolved from something found on Earth (or vice versa...creepy), it's probably pretty unlikely that they will be bacteria (or viri, for that matter) per se. I think it would be fair to assume that any martian pathogen would be a totally new beast.

    That said, however, given that there are no macro-scale living things on Mars to infect, its pretty unlikely that it would have any mechanisms in place to handle our immune defenses. While this cuts both ways (our immune defenses would also be woefully ill-prepared), our immune system is good enough to have generalized responses queued up to handle just about anything (think about inflamation, etc). This is not to mention that the pathogen is unlikely to have any idea (if you'll excuse the anthropomorphism) how to infect the human body in the first place (how to cross from the lungs to the blood stream, how to infiltrate mucous membranes, etc).

    I think we'll probably have to look for the apocalypse somewhere other than in the form of a martian plague.

    • True! The reason we are prone to be infected and killed by enumerable organism on earth is that we share the evolution with them. We are competitors in the same system. Unless there is some higher lifeforms on mars we are not in emidiate danger (I think).

      On the other hand will a contamination with earthly germ on mars be a major drawback for science.
    • * (or viri, for that matter) *

      yes you can be damn sure they're not men [textkit.com].

      why pretend word wizardry when you don't have it...
    • I overlooked the possibility that the bug might simply consume a mineral for fuel. A martian germ that consumes various organic molecules found in human tissue could be a big problem. I'm not so sure that our immune system would be competent to handle a bug that simply broke down our molecules to feast on the carbon rings within and that reproduced on its own (without help from the host). Out skin may also not be any defense if it was edible itself.

      Given, however, that we would not play the normal role of

  • Odds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:30AM (#11001080) Homepage Journal
    Is long far more probable than we got infected by a mushroom/squid/worm/elephant specific disease, that have at least a similar biochemistry and even very similar ADN, than getting infected by an alien disease, be from Mars, Titan or Beta Eridani.
  • ...and there is only one cure.

    Accutane.
  • On August 7, 1996, NASA announced a startling discovery - by examining a meteorite that originated on Mars, they found what they believe is evidence for a primitive form of life that may have existed on Mars 3.6 billion years ago. More work needs to be done to confirm this preliminary result, and many scientists remain unconvinced by the present evidence. But if this preliminary result is confirmed, if the structures inside the meteorite turn out to be fossil evidence for cellular organisms, then some impor
    • by dannytaggart (835766) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @11:08AM (#11001212) Homepage
      NASA has since stated [nasa.gov]that there is no evidence of life on the above mentioned meteor:

      NASA said that after two years of study "a number of lines of evidence have gone away". Several different chemicals and molecular structures were exciting because they looked similar to byproducts of life on Earth. However, these chemicals and structures can also be created without life. Some are even present in deep space on comets, and scientists do not think that they came from Martian life anymore.
  • Are a million to one... he said.
  • there's pretty much (Score:4, Informative)

    by ivano (584883) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:37AM (#11001104)
    a whole division at NASA devoted to stopping cross-planentary contamination [nasa.gov]. Remember that little episode of downing the Galileo probe into Juptiter *just* in case it might end on Europa.

    One of the main problems now is the lack of funds for such programs, esp for probes we send out of Earth. On the other hand, any probe returning from Mars will be heavily guaranteed - not just for safety reasons but for scientific ones as well.

    BTW, the chances of Martian life surviving on Earth is going to be close to nil since the reducing atmosphere will oxidize anything that hasn't already had a few billion years evolutionary head start to protect themselves from it. [Yes, I know it won't be zero.] And Mars doesn't look like it had enough oxygen in it's atmosphere to effect evolution anytime in it's history.

    Ciao

  • What's funny is that we may have even infected Mars with our own bacteria when we sent several probes there.

    That IS funny! Haaahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahaaaaaaa HAAAAAAHAHAHAhahahahhahahahhaaaaaaaaa
  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:38AM (#11001108) Homepage Journal
    What's funny is that we may have even infected Mars with our own bacteria when we sent several probes there.

    Not so funny.

    Alien microbes are less dangerous (to us) than our own terran microbes.

    Truly alien microbes may or may not thrive in our bodies.

    Earth microbes, on the other hand, already know how to live in our bodies. A mutant earh microbe can readily mutute into virulent new forms.

    This was the gist of The Andromeda Strain [google.com].

    -kgj
  • IIRC, the novel Andromeda Strain was about a crashed earth space probe that was contaminated with earth bacteria. The originally harmless terran bacteria was exposed to cosmic radiation which caused it to mutate into a deadly pathogen. While itself not likely, I find that a more likely senario than extra-terrestrial life. BTW, in the book the pathogen evenually mutated back to its harmless form once it got back to normal conditions.
  • I thought this problem was already somebody's job, why haven't they asked him about it?

    Our Man In Black [slashdot.org]
  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:45AM (#11001135) Homepage
    What's funny is that we may have even infected Mars with our own bacteria when we sent several probes there.

    It would be great news if there was life capable of surviving both Martian and earth climates, because that would mean we could terriform Mars.

    As far as bacteria from Mars that might infect earth, let me put it this way: what about bacteria from the deep sea being brought up by submarines? What about bacteria from deep in the earth's crust being being unearthed by drilling operations? What about all of these micro organism that inhabit exotic environments on our own planet that we risk releasing into our habitat all the time? What happens to them?

    Tersely put: they die.

    It's evolution, my friends. Organisms have specialized to compete in their own biological niches and developed the best tools available to do so, at the cost of performing well in alternative environments. Any organism introduced from such a foreign environment as I've mentioned, even if it could survive our human environment, it would be horrifically outcompeted by the existing organisms in our ecosystem and die handily.

    Notions of a superplague from another planet wiping out life on earth are strictly fantasy stories which ignore real evolutionary fact.

    • Except there have been occasions in the past where organisms, upon introductions to new niches, out compete native organisms spectacularly.

      Invasive, non-native crops or fish represent the relatively benign example. Native American deaths due to European disease would be at the other end.

      Martian plague might be unlikely, but the chances certainly aren't non-zero.
    • It's evolution, my friends. Organisms have specialized to compete in their own biological niches and developed the best tools available to do so, at the cost of performing well in alternative environments. Any organism introduced from such a foreign environment as I've mentioned, even if it could survive our human environment, it would be horrifically outcompeted by the existing organisms in our ecosystem and die handily.

      Tersely put, you're not as bright as you think you are. Many foreignly introduced
      • The examples that you mention of species which thrive in a new environment are species which have already evolved (there's that word again) to survive and compete in very similar environments. Japanese beetles natively exist in temperate climates which are not terribly different from Michigan's except for the unfortunate lack of predators. Notice that Japanese beetles haven't proven a threat to the Antarctic or the Sahara. And it's fair to conclude they would not do too well on Mars, despite having zero
  • For those of us old enough to remember the moon landings, history is repeating itself. The same worries about a "moon plague." The special "van" in which the lunar astronauts were quarantined. And how can I forgot a scary book and movie called the "Andromeda Strain," about a plague from outer space. Ahhh, to live in the late 60s and early 70s... Hey wait, bell bottom jeans are back. So are corduroys. And those sneakers, I wore those in high school. I'm in a timewarp. Anybody for a midnight showin
  • They said the same things when we went to the moon, and i dont remember any major outbrakes of 'moon bugs' back then....

    While the chances are really remote, that dosent mean one should throw caution to the wind..
  • How funny? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smithypoo (827172) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @10:57AM (#11001174)
    What's funny is that we may have even infected Mars with our own bacteria when we sent several probes there.

    How funny? +5 Funny? +5 Stupid more like...
  • by guybarr (447727) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @11:01AM (#11001186)

    an icon with Uri-Geller's face will do fine.
  • This same fear occurred during the Apollo moon landings. So the returning astronauts were quarantined in a modified Airstream trainer on the aircraft carrier that picked up the capsule. Yet the unit was poorly sealed. The astronauts noticed ants in the trailer!
  • of anything coming from Mars
    was a million to one, he said
    The chances of anything coming from Mars
    was a million to one
    but still, they come.

    (From Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of H.G. Wells story)
  • Extremely Unlikely (Score:2, Insightful)

    by curtvdh (738461)

    Organic life and bacteria/virii have been involved in a never-ending arms race for millions, if not billions of years. They come up with a new vector for infection, larger organics evolve a way to counter that infection and so on, ad infinitum...

    The chances of an alien retrovirus having the necessary enymes to inject a DNA strand into a human cell are pretty close to zero. The chances of any bacteria being able to survive a highly evolved immune system are also pretty close to zero. I would call this a non-

  • by ColGraff (454761) <maron1.mindspring@com> on Sunday December 05, 2004 @11:15AM (#11001243) Homepage Journal
    Why in the world would Martian microorganisms evolve with the ability to infect Terrestrial organisms? What's the "selection pressure" for that? What advantage is conferred by the ability to infect organisms that 99.9 *ad infinitum* Martian organisms will never, ever encounter? How would such a selection pressure manifest itself?

    Without serious, plausible answers to these questions, this concern really strikes me as more appropriate to a b-movie than serious space exploration. Now, I *like* b-movies. But still.
  • by Lispy (136512) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @11:33AM (#11001317) Homepage
    really, let's worry about that if we send the first landers that actually bring stuff from mars. Right now there is nothing remotely dangerous...

  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Sunday December 05, 2004 @11:35AM (#11001323) Journal
    One of the most amazing discoveries from apollo 12 was that when they removed the camera from the surveyor robotic misson that landed a two years earlier, and returned it to earth for analysis , they found human throat bacteria on it, even though it was returned in a sealed, sterile container.

    http://www.lpi.usra.edu/expmoon/Apollo12/A12_Exp er iments_III.html

    One of the astronauts on the mission later remarked that he considered it the most incredible discovery of the entire Apollo program.
  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @12:06PM (#11001430) Journal
    What would be 'funny' (WHO picked that word for the summary - geez!?) would be if a microbe from Mars made it back here and turned out to be harmless to all forms of life, BUT killed the AIDS virus.
  • by indy (23876) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:59PM (#11002006)
    These Bacteria of Mass Destruction have been ignored far too long. Time to liberate Mars!

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