It’s not easy being clean. NASA clean rooms have their own microbes of super-hardy species that withstand rigorous disinfection procedures. Living bacteria have even been scraped off the outside of the International Space Station.
The Planetary Society’s crowdfunded LightSail 2 spacecraft took this selfie of its solar sails with Earth in the background. You can see Cuba and the Bahamas with their gorgeous tropical waters, and in the upper-left of the image you can see the Moon, a tiny brownish dot.
It’s important (and tricky) to keep microbes from accidentally spreading around the solar system. Every time a spacecraft is sent to another planet, it has to be sterilized to keep microorganisms from coming along for the ride. When we start sending humans to Mars, things will get even more complicated.
This week’s Planetary Radio brings you to the recent Humans to Mars summit, where host Mat Kaplan moderated a panel about planetary protection, the fascinating and challenging effort to keep microbes where they belong. Pictured: A team of engineers and technicians installing sample tubes into the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover, taking every precaution not to contaminate them with Earthly microbes.
Originally published by Planetary