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Did mankind “hit” Mars with life? Some microbes can survive while flying from Earth

Mars Perseverance is moving at a top speed of 152 meters per hour, but it brings with it a whole host of tools, devices, and experiments that are already a hit, BBC News Server writes.

NASA and the engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have precise and comprehensive protocols to ensure that no objects get to their spacecraft that could inadvertently embark on a space mission. But two recent studies discovered how some organisms could survive the cleansing process as well as the journey to Mars, as well as how quickly microbial species evolved when in space.

Space machines are built in layers

The process required to build the Perseverance was the same as that of most jet-propelled spacecraft. Spaceships carefully make one layer at a time – like an onion – when everything is cleaned and sanitized for the first time. This method ensures that the equipment sent on the mission cannot actually contaminate any bacteria, viruses, fungi, or germs.

But achieving zero biomass is nearly impossible. Microbes have existed on Earth for billions of years and are ubiquitous. They are in us, in our bodies, and everywhere around us. Some of them can even access the cleanest rooms.

Grün: The challenging task of sterilizing space probes

In the past, biological contamination tests relied on growing life from samples wiped from equipment with tampon sticks. The new method takes a sample and extracts all the DNA from it.

By sequencing all of the DNA in a clean room, and not just examining the cultivable portion of a sample, you can get a more complete view of what type of microbes are in the room and whether they can survive. The vacuum of space.

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Thanks to this method, traces of microbes were found in the clean rooms of the JPL, which could be a problem during spaceflight. These are organisms that have a greater number of DNA repair genes, which give them greater resistance to radiation, can form biofilms on surfaces and equipment, thrive from dehydration, and thrive in cold environments.

Tough microorganisms might have an opportunity

It turns out that clean JPL rooms could serve as an evolutionary selection process for the toughest microorganisms, which could have a better chance of surviving the flight to Mars. It is important to ensure and preserve the safety and preservation of any life that can exist elsewhere in the universe, because new organisms can wreak havoc when they enter a new ecosystem.

How space probes are built so as not to pollute the universe with life

People have unhappy experiences on our planet in this regard. For example, from the blankets given to Indians in North America, smallpox spread among them in the nineteenth century. Even in 2020, we have not been able to stop the rapid spread of the Coronavirus that causes Covid-19 disease.

The pollution of another planet is also not desirable from a scientific point of view. Scientists need to make sure that any discovery of life on another planet really comes from here, which is not a mistaken identification of planet-like pollution, but that of Earth.

Microbes can travel to Mars, even after radiation and sterilization procedures, and their genomes can change to the point where they really look extraterrestrial – as we saw recently with microbes that evolved on the International Space Station (ISS). If these microbes are found in the soil of Mars, it could lead to misleading research into the “universal features of life,” or what we might consider life on Mars.

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There is indeed a possibility that if we find signs of life on Mars, they will originate from Earth. Since the first Soviet probe landed on Mars in 1971, followed by an American Viking-1 unit in 1976, bits of microbial and possibly human DNA may have gotten there.