Why Doesn't NASA Just Look For Mars Life Where Water Flows?
If you've ever wondered why NASA doesn't just look for life in Mars' water, it turns out the agency has a very good reason.By Steven Sparkman | October 20, 2015
If you're like me, every time NASA scientists announce something about the possibility of life, or even just water, on Mars, you're like: Send a probe to look for life there! Send it there! Why aren't you sending it there? (Video via NASA)
The answer is that NASA is actually constrained by law from doing that. The agency sends a lot of stuff to the red planet, but it has to follow strict rules about how close unsterilized equipment can get to areas where life might be possible. (Video via NASA)
It's not a frivolous decision. The U.S. and most other countries have ratified a U.N. agreement dubbed the Outer Space Treaty, which, among many other rules, says countries must "conduct exploration of [celestial bodies] so as to avoid their harmful contamination."