And now for some conspiratorial musings – “Curiosity rover may have brought life to Mars”. It appears one of the drills had been contaminated prior to taking off, giving some microbes a free ride to the red planet. Sure, they didn’t pack a lunch and it’s a mighty long way out there, but the will to survive might just be strong enough to last until curiosity gets wet feet. For all we know, that’s how life might have kicked off on our blue planet as well, though we can’t be sure about the rover. According to panspermia theory “”seeds” of life exist all over the Universe and can be propagated through space from one location to another.” Not contaminating space at all is, even without the drill, quite unlikely, and anyone setting out to explore far flung planets is taking the risk of “a kind of controlled biological chaos”, further determined by budgetary concerns about the level of sterilisation of equipment such as the rover. The potential colonisation of Mars with earthly microbes would then just be another spin-off of the recession.
The thought of space colonisation is intriguing indeed. As Aidan had pointed out in his ‘Laika’-blog, China’s aspirations aside space colonisation might still be light years away, and NASA’s great moment might have been to set foot on the planet. But maybe they didn’t necessarily set out to find something on Mars, but deposit life instead? Quite such obvious – though still unfeasible – measures as sending a crew of colonisers or building infrastructure don’t work in space, as long as the two space treaties (or TPGASEUOS, thanks, Aidan) are in effect. They prevent states not only from claiming sovereignty, but also urge them to avoid contaminating space with the microbial life of Earth (which, for all we know, might have originated in space in the first place). But some mad NASA scientists might have conjured up a more sophisticated plan to ‘bring space on side’. Who knows what’s been cooking on the moon’s surface ever since Neil Armstrong took that giant leap for mankind in 1969? It’s taken us 3.6 billion years to release the iPhone 5! That considered, Ryan, the chances that Mars can become America’s 51st state aren’t all that bad, NASA has just increased the odds. Only the microbes, once they develop into more complex life forms, have to remember who’s their daddy – the foundation for a ‘spacial’ alliance would be laid.
In cosmic terms we may just have witnessed the biggest piece of news in the last 3.6 billion years. But seeing that any such hypothesis could only be proven right or wrong in a few billion years, this blog might still be more irrelevant than a deliberation on Chinese space programs, and a clear indication that the author is in need of watching some classic science fiction. Invaders from Mars, here I come.