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Old February 27 2009, 04:53 AM   #11
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Re: All these worlds are yours... including Europa (and perhaps Encela

The biggest worry with a probe to look for life under Europa's ice would be trying to prevent cross-contamination by Earth microbes that may hitch a ride of the probe - we just don't have a way yet to sterilize every single component with a 100% guarantee it will be absoulutly free of *anything* potentially living.

(Preventing potential cross-contamination of the Jovian moons by Earth-life is a real concern for NASA - it's a major reason they decided to crash Galileo into Jupiter: )

It's the same problem that has kept scientists from probing lake Vostok on Earth yet, even though - much like Europe - we really think there could be life in the water under the ice. ( )

We just don't have the technology yet to ensure that absolutely *nothing* from Earth isn't hitchhiking on a probe - life's just too damn tenacious, it just somehow always...finds a way.
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