January 8, 2014: Martian Water
NASA scientists have discovered evidence of what they think might be the presence of water on Mars. This, of course, has all sorts of implications about the presence of Martian life. Go back and read that again; Martian life doesn't seem as improbable as it once did. We may, sometime within our lifetimes, encounter an extraterrestrial organism.
There is a problem that prevents us from just going in and investigating, though. Interplanetary contamination is a big concern: not that Mars might infect us, but that we might infect whatever we're investigating with our Earth germs. In addition to the well-documented results of such a thing, sending in investigative equipment that hasn't been carefully sterilized could end up producing all sorts of inaccurate results. So, for now, we wait.
-- Brian Engard
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