A leading scientist has assured us all that alien microbes that may have hitched a ride to Earth on returning rockets will not be allowed to escape.
Dr John Rummel, a scientist at the Seti Institute in California, said: “If we bring samples back from either Europa or Mars, we will contain them until hazard testing demonstrates that there is no danger and no life, or continue the containment indefinitely while we study the material.”
Thank goodness for that, then.
Microbes could easily survive the journey back to Earth with space samples from missions to Mars or Jupiter’s moon Europa, as bacteria are usually resistant to cold and dry conditions.
“Precautions taken would provide a very high degree of containment,” he said at a talk on space contamination at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston.
In a worst case scenario, a microbe from space could cause disease in humans, and we’d be unlikely to have any natural immunity against such a foreign bug.
There’s also concern that a leak the other way around could be troublesome.
If microbes from Earth contaminated somewhere scientists believe has the potential to harbour life, like Europa’s salty ocean, it would make finding definite proof of alien bacteria far more difficult.