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Martians Could Kill Life On Earth, Says Scientist

Just another boring rerun of Orson Welles' dramatic 1938 radio presentation of War of the Worlds? Not so.

Dr. John Murray, UK lead scientist with Europe's Mars Express mission, has stated that he has good reason to believe that life - bacteria potentially deadly to humans - has survived on Mars in the frozen subsurface water near its equator. Readers should note that the story was apparently first reported in the UK's The Sun, one of London's better-known peer-reviewed science journals. (Okay, it's actually more of a 'tabloid' - but if Physics Letters A didn't have institutional support, they might also need to have a 'Superbabes' section.)


(Innocent seep of liquid water on Mars -
or deadly load of killer aliens?)

According to the story, Dr. Murray believes that it is possible that Martian microbes could be lying dormant just under the surface. He recommends that exploring rockets should blast open an access hole, freeing ancient Martian ice.

"Then we could land a follow-up probe to scoop up the soil, put it under a microscope and add water...

"Both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) plan to bring samples of Mars 48 million miles back to Earth in the next decade to be studied in a lab. That is where the danger lies," said Dr. Murray.

Microbes have been reawakened after more than thirty-two thousand frozen in Arctic ice. If bacteria were brought back to Earth from Mars, we would not have any immunity. Dr. Murray is quoted as saying "The only danger is if we brought it back and it escaped, we could have a War Of The Worlds situation."


(The world reacts - in 1938)

Any thoughts, Mr. Wells?

Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from time's beginning but nearer its end.
(War of the Worlds)

It's likely that Dr. Murray, a Research Fellow at the UK's Open University, is voicing a concern that proper care be taken if missions to Mars ever return with materials from the Red Planet. He has previously remarked "The fact that there have been warm and wet places beneath the surface of Mars since before life began on Earth, and that some are probably still there, means that there is a possibility that primitive micro-organisms survive on Mars today."

Interested in science fiction in the news stories?

Read The Sun.

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