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Originally posted by adjensen
Originally posted by VoidHawk
They could find a 5 legged donkey drinking at a waterhole and they'd still say - Its not proof, might have been contaminated.
They'll NEVER tell us the truth.
Oh yeah? Well, you just prove that 5 legged donkey wasn't strapped onto the side of the rocket
Seriously, though, the contamination issue is big, because a lot of the interest, if potentially organic material is found, is how much it has in common with terrestrial material. That's why stuff like this is pretty disheartening:
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. Curiosity’s 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 rover’s 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 couldn’t load a drill bit, at least the roverwould have one ready to go.
Under the agency’s procedures, the box should not have been opened without knowledge of a NASA scientist who is responsible for guarding Mars against contamination from Earth. But Planetary Protection Officer Catharine Conley wasn’t consulted. (Source)
No matter how careful they were, the damage may already have been done.
Originally posted by illuminated0ne
Society has become too impatient these days.edit on 3-12-2012 by illuminated0ne because: (no reason given)
The impact could be worse than a contaminated measurement. If Mars was lifeless, what if the contamination from Earth finds a habitat on Mars where it can grow and reproduce?
Originally posted by Fimbulvetr
So.. NASA does employ scientists to prevent contamination. They just didn't deem it necessary to TELL them that they were opening a sealed container before launch.. because.. they just didnt have the time? They forgot? When it could be the difference of 'possibly contaminated results' and 'definitive organic compound found', youd think that this expensive project would have been careful to the last iota.
If bacteria brought from Earth colonize Mars, science missions seeking martian life would be jeopardized. Worse, our bacteria could kill off any life already there.
It sounds kind of like how we have rules against speeding, and people know they aren't supposed to go above the speed limit, but when you're running late for that appointment you are tempted to speed rather than be late. I get the impression from that quote that the people who didn't follow procedure were well aware of the procedure.
We shouldn’t be too concerned about this, says David Lavery, program executive for solar system exploration at NASA headquarters:
"Water or ice near the surface in Gale Crater was not a significant probability. We weighed that against the risks of not having a bit mounted in the drill prior to launch, and the specter of not being able to drill any holes at all on Mars. [...] Of course, there is always a possibility that Mars will surprise us."