As Earth humans begin to seriously consider sending missions to icy worlds like Europa and Enceladus, one of the necessary concerns has to be protection of the environment where such a mission would land. It would be a shame to arrive on a fascinating alien world only to immediately seed it with Earth microbes, carelessly infecting the local ecosystem, ruining the unique scientific opportunity and possibly incurring the wrath of the local alien ruler.
A new assessment by the Space Science Board looks at which destinations are most in need of protection from microbes -- Europa, Enceladus, Titan, and Triton, it concludes -- and sets out a series of protocols for deciding how and where best to assess and deal with the risk.
The report is available as a free PDF here.
I read the report and premise is a good idea.
Of course, you have to get the rest of the world to comply too.
I did not read anywhere in the report, we should be worried of a "....ruining the unique scientific opportunity and possibly incurring the WRATH of the local ALIEN RULER."
But I imagine if Earth bacteria changed or killed off the planets or moons bacteria, the micro organism with not be happy or be a postive thing.
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
And so it came to pass, The Prime Directive was drafted in 2012, and the Mayan prophecy myth was busted.
Oh great, an new group of people trying to make rules to restrict others in an attempt to solve non-existent problems.
There is no evidence of life anywhere but earth.
Isn't it a little terra-centric to believe that any earth life could possibly compete with extra-terrestrial life? Any life on those moons has likely been evolving to fit that particular niche for hundreds of millions or billions of years... do we really think an errant earth cell is going to pop into an alien environment and wreak ecological destruction?
@MDW; The risk to both life sectors is extreme. As stated, the chance that life, evolving in a much different environment, destroys itself in coming into contact with an alien biological; is a matter of plain survival on a much more primitive level than where we are here, talking about it. A lot of us out here in the world have actually talked about this issue a few times, but I've personally always just had to depend on hope. That 'they' actually plan, and prepare as if every life on Earth, not to mention the other world; is depending on them to get it right.
Bagpipes100, they are trying to not only protect hypothetical alien ecosystems, but they are trying to answer critics like you who will say that any evidence of life that they do find must have been caused by contamination brought from Earth.
there is no way that earth is the only planet with life. Maybe the only intelligent life in this solar system. But think about it, all the billions of stars out there and nowhere else has any other life developed how do we know maybe life that we could never imagine life based on silicon or even arsenic
Sparta Volunteer Ambulance Squad...Stopping natural selection since 1947
While the argument that you want to silence critics in the event that we actually do find indigenous life is legitimate, that's adding additional cost and complexity to very complex and costly missions for the sake of a hypothetical.
The entire drive to explore space is based on the idea that we WANT to contaminate alien planets with Earth native biology. Especially contamination of the human variety.
The threat of back contamination needs to be dealt with and any dangers that potential alien microbes pose to humans should be mitigated. If the only life we find out there is microbial though, the nature of it's origin is a little superfluous (practically speaking). If it's dangerous we'll try to destroy it, if it's useful we'll try to use it, if neither we'll just ignore it. The point of origin will be philosophically interesting but otherwise not make a large difference.
Adding additional hurtles that can stop a program before it ever leaves the ground need to be carefully considered. How important is this to us and our objective of exploration?
Where there is mass, there is also life. Believe it not, you all exist on the moons of Jupiter as well. To claim that there is no place but Earth where life lives is folly. We may even find another life-form of our scale within the solar system. Otherwise, Earth exists within every particle of the universe, so on some scale life really is universal. Of course you should not worry yourselves with such, and instead just agree to take the minor steps needed to sterilize your crafts.
The Boy-Scouts know this motto very well: Take only scientific measurements, leave only track-prints.
For those thinking this is not completely necessary, I 'll give a real simple scenario. Man goes to Mars, and is gradually, over time and efforting in the Mars environment, infected with some organism that causes some infinitesimal change in something already in his body, like smallpox. Comes home, and 4-5ths of the world dies in two years. That real.
Sounds like it's time to start cloning, genetically modifying, and making us some real fancy Avatars.
1. Totally Uninforceable.
2. Impossible to do.
The human condition never ceases to amaze me. There are those who want to control everything. Well folks it just ain't going to happen. Space is already teaming with debris originating on terra firma. Why does anyone think the Chinese, North Koreans, Iran or any of a dozen other countries are going to play nice and join in. Oh yeah, the UN is going to pass a law. HaHaHaHa!
"Why does anyone think the Chinese, North Koreans, Iran or any of a dozen other countries are going to play nice and join in."
I agree. We can only, and must, set a good example and stay on top and in control of our own technology...no more military weakness that let spies give away enough secrets that made us a sitting duck where the Russians knew where each of our submarines were and could read our codes, for if they had the ability to act on the information they obtained where greed played a major role getting it there we would not have survived the 80's.
If we stay on top of technology and do as we say others should do and play fair and abide by our own rules others will follow if that is what is required to play with the USA.
Unfortunately as a search on SLAC's E158 data matching CERN's neutrino data @ 2.48e-5 in 453.6 miles shows we are far from following our own rules and obeying our own laws and the US often looks no better and too often even worse than other Countries in the eyes of the World outside the USA to make us a true leader. While there are Americans with high aspirations, ideals, and the morale to achieve great things they are a minority, and often delusional to how dangerous our politicians have become for the safety and good of the Nation.
But nice to hear caution controlling arrogance as we certainly can make changes and probably already have.
GregN913 said: "Where there is mass, there is also life".
Absolutely: Consciousness has Mass in the scalar field of the weak force. But placing the weak force generating neutrinos from within in a star will tax even the most open minds, but Aristotle saw it. Search my name with neutrino and you will like what you find in SLAC's E158 data matching CERN's @ 2.48e-5 with a .20e-5 harmonic comma.
No one has ever found one single concrete peice of evidence that there is life anywhere else. Observation has found nothing.
It's all hopes, dreams, and religious dogma from people like Gene Roddenberry keeping the notion of extra-terrestial life alive.
mparment makes the best point: "The entire drive to explore space is based on the idea that we WANT to contaminate alien planets with Earth native biology. Especially contamination of the human variety." But is it possible that "back contamination" might be beneficial? Even if in the short term an alien microbe served to wipe out a large part of our population, in the long term, who knows what benefits it may bring? It may give rise to a human species immune from cancer. Immune from aging. Better in some remarkable way. Didn't we all decide years ago that evolution is generally a good thing? Why do we think that if two microbes got together that one would "wipe out" the other, or necessarily have an adverse effect on some ecosystem, or us? Must every scientific study have such a premise?
One misses the point in thinking that the objective of exploring other worlds is purely scientific, since we are, ultimately, searching for other places for humans to live. Also, isn't that how life on Earth got started, according to some theories? By "contamination" delivered by asteroids or whatever? The cosmos in the largest sense certainly isn’t worried about this form of contamination, it may even be part of intelligent design on a cosmic scale. Think of asteroids as honey bees on a cosmic scale, pollinating planets. Is God the source of our existence, or contamination from somewhere else? Are they the same thing?
It's interesting to know what is indigenous to a planet, but at the same time it seems a bit silly, since it's equally scientifically important to know which, if any, earthly species could exist or thrive on other planets, whether on the micro or macro level, and the only way to do that is to "contaminate" it.
Here’s an idea: take every single species on planet Earth and DELIBERATELY inject it into every planet and asteroid that flies by! See what takes. Some species die, some are created. Isn’t that how evolution works?
We do horrible things to our own planet, and to ourselves. And often in the name of science! Why are we so "protective" of other planets?
Why do we think that there is something "sacred" about a species, that "man" shouldn't interfere with it. It's the enormous and unending intermingling of DNA on this planet that gave rise to US!
Imagine if you introduced an alien gene into the human species that caused the recipient to die within a week and killed off 90% of the human race. But our descendents (your grand kids) evolved to never get cancer, never experience pain, were impervious to hot and cold and had an unlimited life span. Would you do it? Would it be worth it?
Oh great, the control freak big sister, nanny state mentality is infecting science now. This is a pathetic idea. Do you think Christopher Columbus worried about stepping on a caterpillar when he came to the new world? Do you think Cortez lost sleep over the millions of natives that died from the takeover of South America? This is just what we didn’t need, science from the HR PR perspective.
To make an omelet you have to crack a few eggs.
At one point in time in the past Earth had no life, at one point of time in the future, life will have no life on it. Those two facts are agreed upon by science and religion.
The risks of a pathogen coming from another planet and wiping out humanity are infinately smaller than the odds of humanity being wiped out if we never leave this planet. The only difference is the timeframe.
Since life supports life and complexity of life equals ecological stability, it seems that we should be aiming to stick some life on any rock that will take it. If you look at the primary instruments of chemical climate change, it is the smallest of life (algae and plankton) that make the biggest difference.
So, infect away dear man. We are designed to grow, adapt, and spread. How is a new planey different from a new island or continent on this one? This is all based on the idiotic notion that there is a divide between what is natural and what is artificial. This is false. Man is natural, therefore all he does is nature (for good or ill), and will always be driven by some form of self interest.
Firstly killing tens of millions of people is not cracking a few eggs. see: newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/European_Colonization_of_the_Americas
Secondly if there is any question of contamination from earth then if they find microbes on another planet then there will always be doubt over their origins. Are they really extraterrestrial or did we bring them in the first place? So from a scientific point of view, even if you have the morals of a dictator, it is still a good idea to be totally sure you are studying a different planet, not some-thing you brought with you.
@lapin, what exactly is your link supposed to prove? 2nd I think scientists will know Alien life when they find it because theoretically it should be Alien. If they go to Europa and discover the flu virus, its safe to assume it came with the crew.
This is a pointless initiative and if you think it’s a good idea it’s because you like to worry about hypothetical situations that will never happen and that’s a sad way to live your life.
They are unlikely to find a particular virus, since they won't be looking for e.g. the flu. Tests are likely to be automated and to search for very specific things. They are likely to be looking for indicators of life such as particular molecules /particles associated with life / death (decay of matter) / breathing /water etc. This is where suspicion of contamination can cause results to be ignored.
See: technologyreview dot com/blog/arxiv/27883/?p1=blogs
This is not to show there is life on the Moon but how results can be ignored due to questions of contamination.
By the way the previos link was to show the human cost of death of millions which you are impervious to.