Canadian scientists warn that alien organisms can enter a spacecraft and infect Earth.
The growing demand for space exploration increases the probability of the appearance of alien organisms on Earth and terrestrial organisms on other planets, according to the magazine “BioScience”.
Scientists speculate that alien organisms may become invasive, as with terrestrial species that enter a different habitat.
“Finding life outside of our world is an exciting activity that could lead to major discoveries in the not-too-distant future,” said one of the paper’s authors, Professor of Biology Anthony Riccardi at McGill University in Montreal.
“However, on the eve of an increase in the number of space missions, including those designed to deliver samples from other planets to Earth, it is extremely important to reduce the risks of biological contamination in both directions.”
In his opinion, one can only guess what kinds of organisms might be found if astrobiologists found life on another planet. “The most likely life forms would be microbial and likely bacteria-like,” suggests Riccardi.
However, the risk of interplanetary contamination is extremely low, according to the American scientific website Live Science. This is in part because the harsh conditions of space make it difficult for organisms that can hitch a ride on the skin of a spacecraft to survive.
But scientists believe space explorers should be careful. Humans have already damaged ecosystems across the Earth, allowing organisms to invade a new environment they would never naturally enter.
According to Riccardi, major space agencies have long recognized the potential risks of biological contamination, and planetary protection policies have been in place since the 1960s.
“However, the new era of space exploration presents unprecedented risks as it aims to explore the areas most likely to harbor life,” said Riccardi.