February 26, 2024

We Asked a NASA Scientist: Could Microbes Survive a Trip to Mars? [Video]

By NASA
September 17, 2021

Yes, it is possible for microbes to endure the journey from Earth to Mars. Thats why we have a program specifically committed to guaranteeing the spacecraft is as clean as possible before leaving Earth– if we ever detect life on Mars, we are particular that it did not originate from our own planet.
The journey to Mars includes the severe vacuum of space, UV and ionizing radiation, and drastic temperature changes depending on if youre dealing with the Sun or shielded away from it. While the majority of microorganisms on Earth could not endure these conditions, one prominent kind of microorganism that might survive the journey are called bacteria endospores, which can form seed-like structures that enable them to remain inactive till better conditions emerge. This “superpower” is why spore forming bacteria are offered unique focus when NASA cleans up spacecraft being sent to Mars.
Simply to give you an idea, the Mars 2020 objective– that includes NASAs Perseverance rover– carried 10 times less bacteria than what you d find in a teaspoon of seawater.
So yes, it is possible for a microbe to endure the journey from Earth to Mars, which is why its our job to make certain it doesnt hitch a trip on NASA spacecraft.

Thats why we made sure NASAs Perseverance Mars rover satisfied tidiness requirements before leaving our home planet. Dr. Moogega Cooper from NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory is here to fill us in.