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MARTIAN PALEOBIOLOGISTS - NYET!
I have not been following the discussion on possible Martian life closely, so
apologies if this is redundant.
It is possible that there is microbial life on Mars, perhaps deep in the warm
moist ground (as here on Earth) or in hotsprings. It has been suggested that
we will have to send apes (a.k.a. H. sapiens) to Mars to prove or disprove
the existence of life if it is well hidden. This is, of course, insane. We
apes also carry a heavy symbiotic/parasitic load of Earthly microbes (which
even if sharing a common ancestory with Mars life has long since diverged).
Put guys and gals on Martian Firma and those little buggers will get loose.
Please spare us the myth of sterile procedures, you cannot keep a red-blooded
terrestrial microbe caged forever. They may thrive, and dramatically alter
the ET biosphere, thereby destroying to a greater or lesser extent what we
supposedly went to study.
Of course, the insane expense of actually sending hairless apes to Mars will
probably forclose this option anyway. So let us send the (properly sterilized
of course) robopaleobiologists!
One thing I am wondering. The supposed Martian microfossils are much smaller
than fossil Earthly bacteria of equal age. Are there any professional
biologists who can say whether any modern nonviral life (bacteria?) are as
small as the Martian "fossils"?