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Re: Martian Contamination

>On April 20, 1967, Surveyor III landed on the Moon.  On November  20, 1969,
> Apollo 12 landed 300 feet away from it.  The crew of Apollo 12 removed the
> camera from Surveyor III and placed it in a sterile bag for return to 
> Earth.

The camera was placed in a backpack that was zipper-closed, but the
backpack had no capability for being sealed.  

> Upon return to Earth it was discovered that the camera was contaminated 
> with aspecies of Streptococcus mitis bacteria.  These "earthlings" had
> fortwo and a half years in a vacuum with temperatures ranging from 101 to -
> 181 degrees Celsius.  In addition the bacteria was exposed to cosmic ray
> bombardment.

The bacteria was on a piece of foam deep inside the camera, and took 4 days of
incubation in a liquid broth to coax the bacteria to grow again.  
The NASA engineers estimated that the maximum temperature experienced
inside the camera while on the lunar surface was no more than 70 dgrees
Celsius.  Also, being inside the camera provided shelter for the bacteria
from any cosmic ray bombardment.  The scientists studying the bacteria
speculate it may have also been encapsulated inside an aerosel droplet that
provided a protective coating.  

A piece of an electrical cable running from the camera to another part
of the Surveyor spacecraft was also analyzed.  No microorganisms
was found in or on the cable.

Ron Baalke

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