NASA just announced that water is on the surface of Mars. One would think we would just send either the Curiosity rover or Opportunity rover (both are currently on the surface of Mars) to investigate the area. However, NASA actually can't. Why?

NASA’s Curiosity rover is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the site that scientists suspect holds liquid water on Mars. At this point, it's not allowed any where near it. Why? Isn't the rover's whole purpose to discover if life is currently on Mars, or existed at one time period? Science Alert points out thanks to a international treaty signed in 1967, both rover's aren't allowed any where near the water.....even if it is closer than a trip from Utica to Syracuse.

Every country on Earth is bound by the stipulations of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which forbids "anyone from sending a mission, robot or human, close to a water source in the fear of contaminating it with life from Earth". "

Scientists at NASA, and space agencies across the planet, sterilise their probes before they launch into space. The process used can be comapred to a "intense ultraviolet tanning salon". NASA's logic at the moment is if they can’t guarantee sterilisation, there’s no going near that water. They wouldn't want to harm, or kill life there.

Isn't one of the major points NASA shifts it's funding to these probe programs is to find life on another world? Their theory is if there is water there will be signs of life. The probe can't even drive over near the area and take photos of the findings? Even if it's from a distance away?

Here's another point then: Why send probes to Mars going forward if we have a fear of contamination? We now know there is water there. Why send probes to worlds like Europa and Titan? Wouldn't the fear be we would "wipe out the micro-organisms" that live there?

Europa is the mysterious icy moon that orbits Jupiter. Scientist have a feeling underneath the icy surface, there may be oceans. If there were to be oceans of water, would their be life inside? If we were to discover water there, would we be allowed to send a probe to it? Under that treaty no. Then why waste funding on a probe there? Currently NASA has a satellite program in the works to go there with no lander.

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only moon known in our solar system to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.

Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. The dense opaque atmosphere prevented understanding of Titan's surface until new information accumulated when the Cassini–Huygens mission arrived in 2004, including the discovery of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in Titan's polar regions. The geologically young surface is generally smooth, with few impact craters, although mountains and several possible cryovolcanoes have been found."

Back in 2005, we landed a probe on Titan called Huygens.

This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System. It touched down on land, although the possibility that it would touch down in an ocean was also taken into account in its design. The probe was designed to gather data for a few hours in the atmosphere, and possibly a short time at the surface. It continued to send data for about 90 minutes after touchdown. It remains the most distant landing of any human-made craft."

Titan is farther away from the Sun than Earth is. That means the surface is much colder and currently lacks stable liquid water. Scientists have suggested that Titan's thick atmosphere is chemically active and rich in carbon compounds. On the surface there are bodies of liquid methane and ethane. That has led some scientists to speculate that these liquids might take the place of water in living cells different from those on Earth. So in theory, there could be life on Titan.

Was the fear of the Huygens probe being contaminated a factor when it landed on a world that could hold life? Why is it such an issue that NASA could send a rover that is now on the surface over to the water? What type of bacteria does NASA feel the probe could have that could kill life?

If anything, say in theory there was no life in the water on Mars. Wouldn't we want to introduce life, the microorganisms that are on the rover, back to the planet? Wouldn't we want to watch what would happen to the organisms from the Rover in the water?


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