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If we find microbial life on Mars, should we leave it be?

If microbial life were found on Mars, some say that we have no right to infringe upon it in any way; that we should consider Mars an untouchable planet. Life that evolved in the absence of us should be left alone, and respected as a unique evolutionary miracle.


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  • Aug 26 2011: What makes you think that they would interrupt what might possibly be going on there in the first place? I feel that it's reasonable to say that the scientists exploring Mars, above all else, understand the value of that life--if it were there--and how fragile it is. Surely they would study specimens and observe the planet, but I'm also certain they would take care not to disrupt it in any significant or noticeable way so as to actually alter the path life on that planet would currently be on.
    • Aug 29 2011: I'm just seeking opinions. You make a good point and I agree with you in that those who will get to Mars first will be the ones who deserve to be there--the scientists who have nothing in mind but exploration and a hearty lesson in humility. At least I hope that will be the case.
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      Aug 30 2011: Actually that's not strictly true. There's a good chance we've already messed things up by carrying human bacteria to Mars. The probe sterilization process isn't exactly perfect.
      • Sep 1 2011: Not strictly true, yeah, but then you get into the realm of questioning what we truly do know, which is nothing. The only way we can live is by making generalizations, and trusting what seems apparent because it's all we have to go on. The scientists building the probes are the most qualified to do so, which says something in a population of almost 7 billion human beings, and I think it's reasonable to trust that they're going to do at least a decent job. Of course there's room for error, but we can't live our lives in the shadows of our doubts.

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