We have not yet reached there en masse, but the risk of contamination on Mars and the Moon is already being analyzed, and NASA is leading the study.
The organization has updated its policies to ensure that humans do not pollute these worlds, that we will not be carrying organisms or other pollutants from Earth, and that we are not bringing anything weird around here.
They comment on some details on Twitter, where Jim Brindestine indicates that in their new policies they will have data on that commitment before the next Artemis missions. They believe it is the only way to promote Earth’s scientific discoveries and environment, while allowing dynamic human exploration and commercial innovation on the Moon and on Mars.
NEWS: We are updating @NASAs policies to match our goals and capabilities. We will protect scientific discoveries and the Earths environment, while enabling dynamic human exploration and commercial innovation on the Moon and Mars. More: https://t.co/4lytWlSDyi
– Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 9, 2020
By taking robots to different planets (or satellites), we may be carrying organisms that affect possible extraterrestrial life, as has happened in the history of our planet on several occasions (applying it to different civilizations). It is no longer just about sending viruses or bacteria, we are talking about chemicals that can react in some way with unknown organisms.
On the other hand, they also want to guarantee that no extraterrestrial pollutant will be brought to our planet, since we only needed that.
At the moment there are two provisional directives:
– One focused on robotic and manned missions traveling to and from Earth’s Moon. They want to activate a sustainable exploration of the Moon while safeguarding future science in permanently shadowed regions. Another focus on biological contamination for Earth-Moon missions to Mars. The agency says it will use the data and experience gained through ground testing to conjure up guidelines and develop capabilities to monitor biological processes associated with human presence in space exploration. It also aims to develop technologies to mitigate pollution, such as more effective waste disposal tools and techniques.
Although they plan to travel to the Moon in 2024, remember that the budget has been canceled, so we may have to wait for something else.