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Re: More Martian Meteorites Coming this Way!

Had to respond to this last incoming email...

Many top scientists disagree with the point of view espoused below.  So
much so, in fact, that when many microbiologists convened in DC about a
year ago, several believed that there was "no level of acceptable risk" in
the protected transport of Martian samples to Earth.  Finally, the notion
of total O2 poisoning is inaccurate.  There may very well be O2-philic
microbes that would thrive on Earth in a manner unlike ever previously
experienced--microbes that are otherwise suppressed while on Mars.


At 11:00 AM 7/20/98 -0500, you wrote:
>> Walter -
>>     Welcome to the "science" of the "Let's send men to Mars" space
>> enthusiasts.
>>     The most significant reason for not sending men
>> to Mars is the problem of biological contamination:
>Hash. There is no threat of 'back contamination'. Any microbes from Mars
>are going to be completely different from those of Earth. I cannot
>believe that they could even survive in such a different environment as
>Earth. It is like suggesting that if you dropped off a shark onto the
>Serengeti it would outcompete the lions. The whole idea is nonsense, and
>sharks and lions live on the same planet! I suggest you go and quiver in
>fear from real threats, like Dutch Elm Disease and Tobacco Mosaic virii.
>Why don't people die from these? Because they are not evolved for the
>human host. Now, how on Earth (sorry, couldn't resist) would a Martian
>microbe or virus survive successfully on Earth. First, we have too much
>02, which would be a deadly poison to any Martians. Second, they have to
>somehow enter the body and *overcome the immune* system. Sorry, it just
>ain't gonna happen. Yes, quarantine is a prudent idea for missions to
>Mars, but back contamination is not a threat. There is no way that a
>foreign germ from a different environment completely unlike Earth can
>come down here and compete with other germs that have been evolving here
>for 3 billion years. Even if there is life on Mars (and we don't know)
>back contamination of Earth is essentially an impossibility.
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