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What if life is found on Mars? Then what?

  1. Jun 27, 2008 #1

    LowlyPion

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    After the initial shock and excitement, do we commandeer the the planet and take if for ourselves anyway? Pollute it with earth species or extremophiles?

    Will an environmental impact study then be required?

    And if they are more advanced, do we hide and hope they didn't see us lest they do the same to us without worrying about impact statements?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2008 #2
    I think the very first thing would be to make 100% sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that what we detected are not 'hitchhikers' from Earth. After that, if they're found to be indigenous to Mars, I see a few things happening...

    -Various religious sects refuting the evidence while others 're-interpret' the foundations of their religion to then incorporate the existence of life on planets other than Earth.

    -I see more 'life detecting' probes being sent to other regions to search for variations.

    -NASA will have more to worry about when we send human explorers to Mars and will have to take contamination much more seriously. (which is still a looooooong time away.)

    -We'll learn that life in the universe is (most likely) more common than we assume.
     
  4. Jun 27, 2008 #3
    We kill it. Never know what they could be plotting and it's best to stay on the safe side.
     
  5. Jun 27, 2008 #4

    vanesch

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    I was going to say the same, but you beat me to it :grumpy:
    Preventive war. Pre-emptive war ?
     
  6. Jun 27, 2008 #5
    Who would want to know what will happen? It's a dice roll, and that's the beauty of the future!

    Sweeping philosophical remarks aside, I think if life is found on Mars there will probably be an explosion of interest in future explorations to the not-so-lonely planet. We'll be studying what we find inside out until we know every detail of the life that exists (or perhaps used to exist?), then we'll send up a few more probes to look for what we might have missed.

    Of course, philosophers will be going wild at the news and making fat bank on their new books people will read to understand 'what it all means'.
     
  7. Jun 27, 2008 #6

    LowlyPion

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    We kill it?

    Go in after their WMDs?

    Not sure Dick Cheney will still be running things by the time anything could be done.
     
  8. Jun 27, 2008 #7
    Enslave them on asparagus plantations.
     
  9. Jun 27, 2008 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Okay, THAT was funny!!! :rofl:
     
  10. Jun 27, 2008 #9
    I guess this depends on the type of life we find.
     
  11. Jun 27, 2008 #10
    I think we will be very cautious with any life forms. Anyone remember when the astronauts returned form the first moon landing? They were kept quarantined.

    On the recovery ship, they went into a sealed travel trailer and stayed there until the trailer was brought back to Houston, then they exited into a sealed laboratory along with the moon rocks. They were kept there until it was decided that they had no diseases.

    The book, The Andromeda Strain was published in may of 69 and may have led to some of the precautions.
     
  12. Jun 27, 2008 #11
    Wasn't that around the same time students were told to hide under their desks from a nuclear attack?
     
  13. Jun 27, 2008 #12
    What would you suggest that they do instead?
     
  14. Jun 27, 2008 #13

    turbo

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    Actually, that was popular during the late '50s - I was there.
     
  15. Jun 27, 2008 #14
    I'd be willing to bet this has already been done...(unintentionally, of course).
     
  16. Jun 27, 2008 #15

    LowlyPion

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    I'm sure there's a finite error bracket to thinking it couldn't happen. But the temperature extremes and prolonged severe environmental conditions in transport and on the Martian surface, compared to the relatively fertile conditions under which the lander and instrument package was assembled and where they might have hopped aboard, should give us some degree of confidence that if it was viable at fabrication, it's not now.

    Given the limited nature of Martian conditions and what we currently know about limits in Earth extremeophiles, I wouldn't think it would matter one way or the other if there were hitchhikers. They shouldn't be affecting asparagus production numbers in any event.
     
  17. Jun 27, 2008 #16
    http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast01sep98_1.htm
    http://astrobio.net/news/article1311.html

    And they weren't extremophiles. Just regular old common Streptococcus mitis.
     
  18. Jun 27, 2008 #17
    Bacteria spores are incredibly resistant to cold.

    :surprised

    http://astroprofspage.com/archives/142
     
  19. Jun 27, 2008 #18

    LowlyPion

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