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Scientists Say Earth Bacteria Could Easily Colonize Mars

NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, completed a shallow "mini drill" activity as part of an evaluatiion of a rock target called "Windjana" for possible full-depth drilling to collect powdered sample material from the rock's interior, April 29, 2014.
Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in California, say bacteria from Earth could easily accompany astronauts to Mars, and could quickly colonize the planet.

Three different teams, researching how to sanitize the equipment going to other planets, discovered that some of the bacteria from Earth are resistant to all space hazards, including vacuum, cold and the full spectrum of dangerous radiation.

Scientists already knew it is practically impossible to prevent other forms of life from accompanying the first humans to visit Mars, but they wanted to know upon which bacteria to concentrate.

Results of experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station show that some bacteria form protective shells to isolate themselves from extreme conditions and that only ultraviolet light is able to kill all microorganisms.

This means that if protected from sunlight, the bacteria spores have at least a 50-percent chance of survival on Mars missions.

Results of the three studies were published in Astrobiology Journal.