How To Search For Mars Life Without Contaminating Everything
Future Mars rovers will have to meet strict sterilization requirements if they're going to return Martian samples to Earth.By Evan Thomas | October 23, 2015
We've talked about the strict rules NASA has to follow when it comes to contaminating Mars with Earth life. But the agency still has plans to try to find life on the red planet.
To do this, things have got to be clean. The Curiosity rover was sterilized before launch, but even it isn't clean enough to enter Mars' so-called "special regions," areas like the watery slopes NASA recently announced.
The Mars 2020 mission will be clean enough. The probe will carry a coring drill that can collect samples for later return to Earth. And it will be required to have fewer than 15,000 spores on board.