destinyland writes "'We're going to have to do extensive robotic exploration,' says the director of NASA's Ames Research Center, suggesting nanotechnology to build self-replicating robots on Mars. Genetically engineering extraction and construction microbes could 'grow' electrical components, and eventually convert carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen. 'If we really want to settle Mars, and we don't want to have to carry millions of tons of equipment with us to duplicate the way we live on Earth, these technologies will be key.' This interview with Peter Worden, the director of NASA's Ames Research Center, was just featured in the summer issue of H+ magazine, and he also argues that robots will be necessary to first survey Mars for underground microbes and protect the unique Martian biosphere, since it may contain clues about earth's own first life forms. In fact, given the water and carbon that's been discovered on Mars, the possibility of underground microbes is still considered real, and Worden argues that Mars 'may already be supporting life.'"