NASA Mars Rover

From Germ Theory to Spacecraft Microbiome

It was about 150 years ago that the idea of microbes finally became accepted (aka bacteria and viruses). Germ Theory had beaten Miasma Theory and scientists of the late 1800’s were developing new tools to study microbes — the pace of development bloomed. Now, we decontaminate spacecraft & rovers to prevent microbes from hitching a ride to planets we are exploring. The reasons for this is less about Star Trek’s Prime Directive and more about ensuring that life-detecting equipment is free of false positives. NASA has been pretty good about sending sterilized robots to planets. Some of these microbes, however, have recently eluded spacecraft cleaning techniques — yet another example… Read More

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Apollo 13 Mission

On this day in history in 1970 the ill-fated mission of Apollo 13 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and safely splashed-down in the Pacific. The crew made it home after a long and weary trip around the moon, surviving on virtually no power, no heat, and no guarantee of returning to Earth. They showed us how to handle a disaster, and turn it into victory. We can only hope to handle our Earth-bound disasters with such skill and leadership.

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