What if life is found on Mars? Then what?

  • Thread starter LowlyPion
  • Start date
  • #1
LowlyPion
Homework Helper
3,090
4
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?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
237
10
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.
 
  • #3
WarPhalange
We kill it. Never know what they could be plotting and it's best to stay on the safe side.
 
  • #4
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
5,028
16
We kill it. Never know what they could be plotting and it's best to stay on the safe side.
I was going to say the same, but you beat me to it :grumpy:
Preventive war. Pre-emptive war ?
 
  • #5
Daniel Y.
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'.
 
  • #6
LowlyPion
Homework Helper
3,090
4
We kill it?

Go in after their WMDs?

Not sure Dick Cheney will still be running things by the time anything could be done.
 
  • #7
918
16
Enslave them on asparagus plantations.
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,260
301
Enslave them on asparagus plantations.
Okay, THAT was funny!!! :rofl:
 
  • #9
AhmedEzz
I guess this depends on the type of life we find.
 
  • #10
67
166
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.
 
  • #11
Daniel Y.
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.
Wasn't that around the same time students were told to hide under their desks from a nuclear attack?
 
  • #12
237
10
Wasn't that around the same time students were told to hide under their desks from a nuclear attack?
What would you suggest that they do instead?
 
  • #13
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
46
Wasn't that around the same time students were told to hide under their desks from a nuclear attack?
Actually, that was popular during the late '50s - I was there.
 
  • #14
166
1
Pollute it with earth species or extremophiles?
I'd be willing to bet this has already been done...(unintentionally, of course).
 
  • #15
LowlyPion
Homework Helper
3,090
4
I'd be willing to bet this has already been done...(unintentionally, of course).
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.
 
  • #16
237
10
The Surveyor probes were the first U.S. spacecraft to land safely on the Moon. In November, 1969, the Surveyor 3 spacecraft's microorganisms were recovered from inside its camera that was brought back to Earth under sterile conditions by the Apollo 12 crew.

The 50-100 organisms survived launch, space vacuum, 3 years of radiation exposure, deep-freeze at an average temperature of only 20 degrees above absolute zero, and no nutrient, water or energy source.
http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast01sep98_1.htm [Broken]
http://astrobio.net/news/article1311.html

And they weren't extremophiles. Just regular old common Streptococcus mitis.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #17
67
166
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.
Bacteria spores are incredibly resistant to cold.

During the lunar landing series it was determined that the Moon is absolutely sterile, and there are no Moon organisms at all. The only exception was when Apollo 12 landed next to Surveyor 3 and returned some instruments from the unmanned craft that NASA scientists found streptococcus spores on the instruments, presumably from one of the technicians assembling it. The spores had somehow remained viable in the unbelievably harsh environment of space.
:surprised

http://astroprofspage.com/archives/142
 
  • #18
LowlyPion
Homework Helper
3,090
4

Related Threads on What if life is found on Mars? Then what?

  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
8K
  • Last Post
Replies
15
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
3K
Top