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Should we infect Mars with bacteria?

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A photo of one full lit side of Mars, showing the reddish brown color of its surface and a white spot on the southern side.

To kickstart colonization?

A paper published last month in the journal FEMS Microbiology Ecology argues that the “primary colonists” of the Red Planet should be “microorganisms” — the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that support many of life’s processes here on Earth.

Jose Lopez, a professor at Nova Southeastern University and one of the authors of the paper, proposes an approach to planetary colonization that begins with a plan on studying microbes that could support life in extraterrestrial environments.

“Life as we know it cannot exist without beneficial microorganisms,” he said in a press release. “To survive on a barren (and as far as all voyages to date tell us) sterile planets, we will have to take beneficial microbes with us.”

Natalie Coleman, “Contaminating Mars With Microbes Could Kickstart Colonization” at Futurism

Paper. (open access)

One way of seeing it: We can’t find alien life but maybe we can literally invent it.

Another way of seeing it: If the idea works, it could be like rabbits in Australia and cats in New Zealand. That is, it works but then most other things don’t.



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I suppose they could give it a try, but there doesn't seem to be much of a chance for the Earth organisms. Almost zero water (except near the poles), with an average way below freezing surface temperature of -80 degrees F. and a very thin (.088 psi) atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide. Huge daily temperature swings can exceed +-100 °C near the surface. On top of all this, there is a considerable level of toxic chlorine-based compounds such as calcium perchlorate, around 0.5%, in the Martian soil, considered a toxic level to humans. doubter

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