Human carelessness one of the ‘biggest risks if we encounter extraterrestrial life’

enceladus
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

As humans explore the solar system, the tantalizing possibility of discovering extraterrestrial life continues to pop up. But the goal of most scientists is to discover existing life on another world, not to accidentally bring it there from Earth. Whether travelers are robotic probes or human astronauts, scientists are increasingly faced with the challenge of preventing the contamination of alien environments. But if we uncover still-evolving alien life on another world, can we even justify going there?

Scientifically, “you don’t want to find yourself in the position of equivocating about whether you found something left behind by a previous probe versus something which truly represents a separate generation of life,” says James H. Beall.

Related article:  Synthetic biologists developing cells programmed to target, destroy cancer

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s not to dismiss the ethical concerns, though. Beall says that should humans find signs of extraterrestrial life, we will have to face tests about whether we’re there for exploitation, preservation, or a mixture of both that’s more akin to animal husbandry.

When the question of life is placed out front, most experts immediately talk about the importance of preserving it. Beall sees human carelessness as one of the biggest risks to extraterrestrial life.

Read full, original post: If We Find Alien Life, Can We Avoid Harming It?

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
Send this to a friend