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October 24 2012

Manned Mars Missions Could Threaten Red Planet Life


Humanity has long dreamed of putting boots on Mars, but those boots have the potential to stomp all over any lifeforms that may exist on the Red Planet.

A seething, swarming mass of 100 trillion microbes will accompany every astronaut who lands on Mars. This diverse "microbiome" has evolved with humans for eons and provides a number of services, from helping people digest their food to keeping pathogenic bacteria at bay.

While these microbes are intimately tied to humans, many of them will jump ship if transported to the Martian surface with unknown consequences for a planet that may or may not host life of its own.

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