Skip to comments.Scientists fear Curiosity rover drill bits could contaminate Mars
Posted on 09/10/2012 8:07:04 AM PDT by servo1969
For all the hopes NASA has pinned on the rover it deposited on Mars last month, one wish has gone unspoken: Please dont find water.
Scientists dont believe they will. They chose the cold, dry equatorial landing site in Mars Gale Crater for its geology, not its prospects for harboring water or ice, which exist elsewhere on the planet.
But if by chance the rover Curiosity does find water, a controversy that has simmered at NASA for nearly a year will burst into the open. Curiositys drill bits may be contaminated with Earth microbes. If they are, and if those bits touch water, the organisms could survive.
The possible contamination of the drill bits occurred six months before the rovers launch last Nov. 26. The bits had been sterilized inside a box to be opened only after Curiosity landed on Mars.
But that changed after engineers grew concerned that a rough landing could damage the rover and the drill mechanism. They decided to open the box and mount one bit in the drill as a hedge to ensure success of one of the most promising scientific tools aboard Curiosity. The drill is to bore into rocks looking for clues that life could have existed on the planet. Even if a damaged mechanism couldnt load a drill bit, at least the rover would have one ready to go.
Conleys predecessor at NASA, John D. Rummel, a professor of biology at East Carolina University, said, partly in jest: It will be a sad day for NASA if they do detect ice or water. Thats because the Curiosity project will most likely be told, Gee, thats nice. Now turn around.
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
Earth organisms that can survive space?
Do you really think those organisms can survive on Mars?
So no worries about the Ruskies’ drill bit in Lake Vostok, but major concerns about the US drill bit on Mars?
Whatsamatter — Anti-Americans and moslims didn’t build the Mars drill bit?
Since we know that material from Mars has reached earth in the form of meteorites, it is indeed possible (if not probable) that earth materials have been blasted out and have landed on Mars.
We should obviously always be careful, but methinks this may be much ado about something that’s already happened - through natural forces.
Drill mars like a drunken prom date.
Curiosity is now to be renamed the JackWagon.
We’ll spread plague and disease to a new world and kill off all the native people, that’s what.
Well, Obama was claiming credit for Curiosity just yesterday so I guess he gets the blame as well.
The problem is that it could compromise the research; if Mars is contaminated with microbes from Curiosity then it could cast doubt on any detection of life signs.
If we ever establish a manned colony on Mars won’t that also contaminate the planet? Or are we going to export some Sierra Club ninnies to make sure we don’t pollute the place?
According to the article they aren’t looking for life signs this go around.
“Ack! Ack ack!”
Because when “o”care is finished that will be the only place acceptable to live.
In future, they will be.
We’re going to have to eventually terraform the place before we can live there. Might as well get started.
And it’s entirely possible Mars is already contaminated with microbes from the previous probes.
Yep. I bet the Russians never cared about that stuff.
I had a Martian prom date.....she had three of them......eyes I mean....
Mars is a big planet. There will plenty of places left for that future research.
The Invasive Species regulations and a “swarm of AgencyPersons” will soon “eat out the substance” of those critters.
ATTENTION ALL EARTHLINGS! KNEEL TO RECEIVE A MESSAGE FROM MARTIAN COMMANDER GELSNOT - You have invaded our planet and shot lasers at our rocks and now you plan to use a sharp instrument upon us. Cease immediately! As terms of your surrender, you will send us Hostess Ding-Dongs and salsa! Oh, and DVDs of your ruler Barney the purple dinosaur. You may now return to your banal existence.
I’m sorry, but do you ever think past the end of your nose? Are you in uncharted territory out there?
Some bacteria are really tough. I the bacteria is embedded in a rock or chunk of ice I believe they can survive. However, I tend to doubt they could survive direct exposure to cosmic radiation.
Do you really think those organisms can survive on Mars?
My understanding is that on the surface of mars, it would be unlikely that bacteria could survive due to being bombarded by cosmic radiation. Below the surface, they could survive.
I’m in the territory where when someone responds with an insult I assume they couldn’t articulate a coherent response to point made.
Who’d a thunk it - the Martians have a EPA equipped with a bunch of job-killing regulations.
see post 31 :)
so they are probably ALREADY on Mars then
Thanks. So, they can survive direct exposure to cosmic radiation?
Sure apparently some microbes, I’m not which ones or if those would be important, seem to have been proven to survive in space. If that is true then Mars has very likely already been exposed to these microbes from Earth.
So drill, baby, drill
I can’t imagine why I should care. Is Mars going to sue us? Sic it’s MEPA on us (Mars Environmental Protection Agency)
You’re right, I couldn’t “articulate” any point made, because we’re not speaking. I expressed an intelligent response, which you attempted to counter illogically. Another Freeper and I were trying to answer your question. At the time, we didn’t realize you were being rhetorical. Thanks for wasting our time.
After reading your posts I can assure you that was no great loss.
if we can train lichen as astronauts...
Your own words used against you:
“Im in the territory where when someone responds with an insult I assume they couldnt articulate a coherent response to point made.”
You’re in above your head. Thanks for playing.
Here we go.
“We found life on Mars but we might have been the ones that sent it there...”
I am 100% convinced they absolutely already know there is life there, and NOT life we sent, but are afraid of announcing it, and will make up whatever it takes to avoid it!
I actually have a Mars meteorite, it’s a piece of a rock discovered, I believe, in Antarctica.
It’s very, very possible, even extremely likely, that some of the meteor/asteroid impacts on Earth in the past have sent material far enough up and away to eventually get to Mars.
Says the poster who didn't know the word "articulate" could apply to a written response. Duhhhhh.
It doesn’t. Properly used, it refers to speech. C/c your definition/source. This is fun. Oh, and one more thing... your assumption is wrong. The trite and unoriginal idea that “when someone responds with an insult ... they couldnt articulate a coherent response to point made, has no basis in fact. Rethink it. I’m trying to be kind.
Mars is much lighter than Earth, and it has very little atmosphere. A rock can be struck from the surface of Mars by another meteorite, it can attain escape velocity (5.0 km/s) without burning up in the atmosphere, and it can reach the next planet.
The same process on Earth would require a massive meteor strike. They are very rare. But let's assume one happened and some rocks were ejected from the Earth's surface. To escape the Earth's gravity they need to be accelerated up to 11.2 km/s (more than double that of Mars.) Rocks don't have a rocket engine in them, so they have to start at even higher speed at the surface to compensate for losses in atmosphere. Atmospheric losses at those speeds will be exactly what a Shuttle experienced during landing - it will be a wall of super hot plasma. It will have a good chance of killing all life forms on the surface. If the rock is small then it will be hot inside too; if the rock is large then it may remain cold - but it really takes a lot of energy to throw it up into the sky.
Another problem is that the levels of energy needed to launch a rock to Mars are likely to vaporize the rock on the spot. Nuclear bombs kicked up mushroom clouds, but those clouds were nothing but fine dust because few, if any, rocks are strong enough to survive the initial shockwave. You need a lot of initial energy to lift the rock all the way to orbit so that it leaves the atmosphere with escape velocity for that altitude. Even if you can come up with such energy, it will crumple the rock into dust. That's why we use powered spaceflight; rockets deliver acceleration not for milliseconds but for five to ten minutes, subjecting occupants and equipment to manageable G levels.
Here is yet another reason. You want a meteor to come down to the surface at a good speed - one that is enough to strike stones back into space. The Martian atmosphere is thin, so this is possible - incoming meteors are not losing much energy, and they are not burning up in the process. On Earth most meteors don't even make it to the surface - and those that do simply arrive at their terminal velocities which are pretty low. They don't carry enough leftover energy to shoot debris back into space.
Earth had experienced some serious asteroid impacts in the past; it is remotely possible that a few rocks escaped Earth. But Earth and Mars are far apart, and space is big. You want a steady source of meteorites from the source planet if you want at least a few to reach the other planet.
I like your warped sense of humor :-)
Here is a website that makes good, solid arguments that the Carolina Bays were formed by ejecta from a meteor/asteroid impact in Michigan.
Note that it would mean some of the material was launched over a thousand miles.
And there have been events that were bigger - much, much bigger. The Sudbury event (1.2 billion yrs), scientists estimate the size of the object to come in was over 5 miles in diameter, as big as Mt. Everest!
Have at it, turn the red planet a little green.
Apollo 12 brought back microbes from a moon probe that had not only survived in space, but also on the lunar service.
Stupid spell-correct. :)