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Protecting the Solar System… From Us

Imagine this crazy scenario: A space vehicle we’ve sent to a distant planet to search for life touches down in an icy area. The heat from the spacecraft’s internal power system warms the ice, and water forms below the landing gear of the craft. And on the landing gear is something found on every surface on planet Earth… bacteria. Lots of them. Specifically spore-forming bacteria which can survive extremely harsh conditions, for years. If those spore-forming bacteria found themselves in a moist environment with a temperature range they could tolerate, they might just make themselves at home and thrive and then, well… the extraterrestrial life that we’d been searching for might just turn out to be Earth life we introduced…

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