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June 28 2013

Mars Life Search Hindered by Planetary Protection Concerns, Scientists Say


Current policies designed to safeguard Mars against biological contamination from Earth are hampering exploration of the Red Planet and should be relaxed, some scientists say.

These "planetary protection" requirements impose heavy financial burdens on Mars missions, partially explaining why no robots have searched for life on the Red Planet's surface since NASA's twin Viking landers ceased operations three decades ago, researchers Alberto Fairen of Cornell University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University write in a commentary published online today (June 27) in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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