October 16, 2021

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Here’s what we know about planetary protection on China’s Mars mission

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This spring, China will attempt its first Mars landing. But in anticipation of that milestone, scientists are wondering whether the Tianwen-1 rover may carry Earthly contamination with it to the surface.

Because scientists have high hopes of someday discovering traces of life on Mars, spacecraft that will land on the planet are kept as immaculately free of Earthly life as possible. These days, that means a complicated cleaning procedure throughout the spacecraft’s assembly and frequent testing for spores, an inactive form of bacteria that are particularly hardy. 



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