Interesting, but no good news…I mean, should we ever find bacteria on another planet, I suppose they’d be the kind of bacteria that can survive when exposed to extreme temperatures, radiations, etc…well if we are bringing exactly this kind of bacteria with our own spacecrafts, we will have to raise big doubts when we encounter life: will it be really extraterrestrial? If we find a bacillus, will it be the proof of alien bacteria colonizing Earth ages ago (as someone hypothesizes) or just a damn bacillus coming from our planet and enjoying a once-in-lifetime trip? I guess some info might be gathered analysing the DNA, “our” bacilli are likely full of genes selected in response to interactions with other terrestrial creatures, which would demonstrate our traveler was born on Earth…
Yes, blitzed, I guess the problem is not with identifying life itself.
I’m sure that given a living cell on MARS there is a way to say whether it got there a year ago or a couple of billion years ago with a rock from Earth.
The problem is that we do not see the cell, now. The most we can do is to see if we could identify byproducts of the processes of life. Striving to “fail to prove the absence” of life as we know it, if you’d like to call it that way. And for that purpose any kind of “short term immigrant” life is bad.
You’re right, I totally agree.
The surprising aspect, to me, is that signifcant contamination still occurs no matter the efforts made to grant sterile conditions and carefully monitor all the steps of mission preparation.