t sounds like the plot of a science fiction film, but it could possibly come true: If NASA brings Martian dirt samples back to Earth, says a new report by the National Research Council, they could contain previously unseen bacteria or viruses that spread like wildfire, endangering the planet. Both NASA and the European Space Agency have discussed missions that would bring soil samples back for more detailed testing. The report warns, though, that any Martian soil must be strictly quarantined to prevent the possible spread of alien microbes. “Given that this is a very high-stakes game where we’re talking about a potentially global problem, we have to be inherently conservative,” report chairman Jack Farmer tells New Scientist. “I think the bottom line here is containment, containment, containment.” A proper isolation facility could take a decade to build, says the committee, so NASA should begin designing it now.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How my boyfriend and I learned to live on one income
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Obama's next steps on immigration
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- Affirmative action is doomed. Here's what progressives should do about it.
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
Subscribe to the Week