Re: SPACE: Contaminating Europa, was: Greens on Space

Date: Tue Mar 13 2001 - 15:29:05 MST

Michael Lorrey wrote:

> Was just reading the latest on the Europa Orbiter mission planning, how
> people are concerned about contaminating Europa with earth microbes.
> What I want to know is: why can we expect Europa to not already be
> contaminated by earth microbes? Given impact events like the Yucatan
> Extinction, some biological material must have been ejected into orbit
> at some point in the past, and given that Europa has no atmosphere, any
> terran ejecta that landed on Europa in the past likely carried microbes
> fast frozen. Can anyone give any reason why this shouldn't be expected?

One *really* obvious and *really* important reason to be careful with Europa
is that, if Earth life does make it to Europa, that the divergence between
Europan and Earth life would give us a handle on how often and how
severe such events are.

Anyway, at present, the only reason to go to Europa is to study the life
It would be pretty goofy to run unnecessary risks of destroying/profoundly
altering the precise thing the mission is trying to study.

* If any, of course

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:40 MDT