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Planetary Protection

Planetary Protection

With flu season approaching, antibacterials and concern about viral contamination are part of our everyday lives. Imagine worrying about protecting a whole planet from contamination? Planetary protection as two main foci: the protection of Earth from extra-terrestrial contamination (think Andromeda Strain), and the protection of other bodies from contamination with Earth organisms. While the chance that an extraterrestrial would have the genetic and physiological know-how to infect terrestrial organisms, or even out-compete them for resources, scientists are concerned that infecting other bodies ruins the ability to explore them for signs of an indigenous biota. Some have suggested that there may ethical reasons for not infecting other bodies.

The Planetary Protection Officer for NASA, Dr. Catharine Conley, spoke in 2008