• Mon. Mar 8th, 2021

Life could be viable on Mars if we maintain space hygiene


Feb 3, 2021

Three spacecraft are scheduled to arrive on Mars this month, with two opening avenues for two countries while the other being an exploration mission by a country used to such missions. The first mission will be UAE’s Emirates Mars Mission, which will be gracing the planet next week, followed by China’s Tianwen-1, which will land and later on launch a rover for further exploits.

These two missions are the first for these countries, and their success will place the parent countries among the countries that have managed to make this mission. Nevertheless, the third mission will be more exhilarating to watch. According to Sanjeev Gupta of Imperial College London, NASA will be landing the Perseverance rover in the Jezero Crater to work out a list of experiments that will unravel the formation of Mars. Sanjeev is a scientist in the Perseverance rover science team.

Mars is interesting because its ancient rocks are preserved instead of crumbling down like the Earth’s crust. These rocks will help the scientists predict the history behind the evolution of the planet and demonstrate where life began on Mars. Moreover, the mission is peculiar because it forms a ten-year plan of the partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) of collecting and returning the Martian samples to Earth. Sanjeev explained that the scientists want these samples to reach Earth, where conditions are stable for a thorough analysis of the samples. Additionally, complex scientific equipment can be used for analysis on Earth, making it the most suitable option for observing the collected samples. The Perseverance rover has over 30 canisters in which the fascinating rock samples will be kept awaiting their return to Earth. NASA’s spacecraft called the Mars Ascent Vehicle will leave the red planet with these samples and send them back to Earth.

As displayed by photographic satellite images, the surface of Mars shows that life might have existed there in the past before becoming extinct. The head of Planetary Society, Casey Dreier, stated that scientists have to ensure that the evidence of life they discover is not part of what they bring to the planet with the spacecraft. Therefore, the spacecraft and equipment must be maintained by cleaning with chemical solvents or heating to prevent the introduction of new elements from Earth into the red planet. This move helps the scientists to avoid errors of commission that result from their mistakes. Moreover, introducing Earth life on this planet might harm its ecosystem, just like the colonization of Hawaii by Europe resulted in diseases that affected the local people’s health.