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Mishandling on Earth could curtail Mars rover mission

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posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 11:46 AM
Apparently when the Curiosity rover was built on earth, there was some mishandling that could lead to a hiatus of the mission if a potential water source is found. The rovers have all been built in clean rooms, to prevent contamination, and to ensure that possible life on Mars started on Mars and wasn't transplanted.

During assembly of the Curiosity rover, there was potential contamination. They were able to certify it for landing, instead of forcing a two year delay to ensure it was clean. The rover is fully compliant with international protocols in place since Viking, but one of the potentially contaminated parts is the drill that would be used to get to water.

The area it is in is supposed to be dry, but apparently NASA has been surprised at what they have found since landing. The area shows evidence of several formerly wet environments.

For an equatorial landing, the rover must have no more than 300 bacterial spores per square meter, or 500,000 spores for the vehicle. There were problems with the wheels, insulating blankets in the heat shield, and paperwork issues to show that the vehicle met standards. Since they were landing in Gale Crater, they were able to reclassify the landing to a less rigorous requirement. However, since landing, they have found significant evidence of prior rivers.

An apparent lack of rigor in maintaining cleanliness on the Curiosity rover while it was being assembled may one day force a hiatus in its use to explore Mars, if its instruments detect the possibility that life-supporting water exists nearby.

NASA's planetary protection officer, the scientist in charge of ensuring U.S. terrestrial probes do not contaminate celestial bodies, certified Curiosity for landing only because it was targeted on an equatorial crater that is unlikely to harbor subsurface water. Had planetary scientists chosen another landing site, mishandling of the rover's wheels and drill bits on Earth might have forced a two-year slip in launching until the next planetary window.

NASA officials, including Planetary Protection Officer Catharine Conley, stress that Curiosity is “fully compliant” with international protocols dating back to the Viking missions. Those standards were designed to ensure that any life found on Mars originated there, and did not arrive on the lander that found it or an earlier robotic visitor from Earth.

However, if Curiosity turns up evidence of contemporary water or ice as it explores Gale Crater, it may be commanded to back off from the potentially life-sustaining area while astrobiologists and planetary scientists ponder whether the rover could “forward contaminate” Mars.


posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 12:47 PM
I may be wrong, but I think that not one of the probes sent to Mars has been certified as clean enough to touch water.

But thanks for posting it, as this is something most people do not know about.

posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 12:53 PM
reply to post by ArMaP

No, I don't believe any of them are, but it's possible that Curiosity is more contaminated than the others. They downgraded the area from a level IVc (I think it was), which would have required heat treatments to kill bacteria, to a IVa, which doesn't. And the teflon seals for the drill are one area of concern, due to the chemicals used in the teflon.

posted on Jan, 26 2013 @ 03:37 PM
From how I read the excerpt the Planetary Protection Officer (where was a PPO when the Europeans landed in North America, when the Indians could have used a helping hand) says the mission is compliant. Her opinion may be a factor in any decision, if and when a drop of water is actually found.
edit on 26-1-2013 by Aleister because: (no reason given)

edit on 26-1-2013 by Aleister because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 27 2013 @ 02:21 PM
Question computer . Is there life on mars ? computers answewr YES .((???)))
question elebrate . computer answer. Despite NASA attempt to sterlise its probes some bactirea survived the tripand are even now evolving to live on mars.
this was from a movie cant rember teh name .But never teh less its TRUE .
theres no such thing as a strial room no matter how much you try something will survive .
on the moon landing they left junk behind and one of the loast they brought back a camra taht had been there 3 years and FOUND living bactira in it.
anothyer exparment secintest used 125 vials taht they put living things into and sealed them.
Then they tryed every way they could think of to kill teh stuff in the vials .Heating tehm boiling tehm radation .then left tehm on a shelf for a few years .what do you think they found in teh vials when they checked them? something alive ? yep .
every indacation we have about mars says theres life there water liquid evenflowing . o2 yes o2 leval is low but its there .methain . and many many to many more to list .
if this was court of law the crimial would be found guilty with all the evedence. If we are going to study other planets up close we may as well get use to the FACT we are bring alian life there lol and we are teh alians lol

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