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"Moon Tardigrades Not Good"



On April 11, 2019, the lunar knight of the Israeli company SpaceIL Beresheet (in Hebrew for "Inception") crashed on the moon. The payload of Beresheet provided by the Nonprofit Archival Mission Foundation was to be an information archive for Earth. It included a DVD containing 30 million pages of human knowledge, as well as 60,000 etched pages that did not require a computer to read, 5000 language keys, and 25-person DNA samples. According to the chairman of the Arch Mission Nova Spivack Foundation, in the event of a disaster, this information library parked on the moon could be enough to "restore the human race."

Many might consider Arch's mission as fantastic and others as profound. But few objected. After all, it was their money. Creative people have certainly been doing more stupid things. Too bad for the crash.

But then on August 7, it emerged that Bereshet was carrying an additional load, about 1

0,000 microscopic animals called tardigrades, on a piece of postage stamped tape. Known as amateur microscopes, such as "water bears" or "fly pigs", these animals have the ability to survive dehydrated at rest for many years and are highly resistant to radiation damage. Now they were on the moon.

At first, reporters told the story with a light touch. "Thousands of tardigrades came across the moon after the earth crash," Mindy Weissberger wrote playfully on LiveScience . "Water bears remain on the moon after the crash," the BBC reported. "There's definitely great source material for a science fiction horror movie. Attack of the moss piglets from the moon? We will watch it. ”

But alas, the fun did not continue. "Tardigrades on the moon is not good," announced NASA astrobiologist Monica Vidauri based on Godard in a series of tweets. August 10 She went on (breaks between tweets missed):

Not sweet. This is the result of a huge gap in accountability for planetary protection and ethics between public and private science, and we have no idea what might happen as a result. This means that the private sector can continue to do as it wishes. This means that they do not meet any security / ethics service. And the fact that nothing is happening about politics and that the standards for deactivation are NOT going to be updated is dangerous beyond imagination. And if you think something like "sweet, we made moon creatures!" Then stop. Think carefully. We have done something in EVERY world that we do not fully understand. It has an environment, even if we consider it to be "barren" for all life on earth. ,.

What you are doing is showing excitement from the long history of the imposition of OUR values, systems and, in this case, living beings in another world. This is not our right and it is not our job. If we continue with this mentality, even if we take away the word "colonization", the premise is the same. This is colonialism This is imperialism.

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Other alleged planetary protectionists have been more concerned with sobriety but have nevertheless joined the Inquisition , claiming that the crimes committed at L & # 39; Affaire Tardigrade not only threaten lunar science, astrobiology and paleontology, but also the entire structure of international

These allegations are of considerable clinical interest, so let's take a moment to look at them.

At the heart of the planetary protectionist prosecution's case is the claim that delivering milligrams of sleeping tardigrades to the moon is "harmful pollution. "To another orld that was banned by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. But that is nonsense because, although it is possible that tardigrades may have survived the crash and even remain alive for several years on the moon and in latent dehydrated form, they cannot be metabolized. there because there is no liquid water on the moon's surface. And so unless and until someone goes there and collects them and takes them to a research lab, they are so much dust.

In addition, Beresheet's mission was hardly the first time anyone had delivered microorganisms to the moon. In fact, the Apollo missions left not milligrams but kilos of living microbes on the moon in bags of human faeces. This was an intelligent thing, since leaving the debris behind the astronauts was able to return with more lunar rocks, which, for a kilo, cost far more than manure on Earth. But it doesn't matter if they didn't, because as soon as the astronauts opened the moon module door, millions of germs were released to the lunar surface, millions more were driven out into space suits, and billions more were sent back down after the lunar modules were left behind. into orbit, they eventually crashed into the moon. Moreover, even if at high costs these releases could be prevented by engineering solutions, it would still be impossible to carry out Apollo missions within the planetary protection guidelines, since it could never be guaranteed that the Lunar Module will not collapse, an event that would release germs across the landscape.

Monica Grady, a leading astrobiologist at the United Kingdom Regional University in Milton Keynes, acknowledged this story but commented: "You can say that [planetary protection] was broken in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were there, this it is true, but since then we have become much more aware of how we should store these planetary bodies.

"I do not think anyone would be authorized to distribute dehydrated tardigrades over the surface of the moon. So this is not good. "

More aware or less aware? Apollo waste was dehydrated and effectively sterilized from the lunar environment within hours of being abandoned and missions would have been impossible without the adoption of such transitional releases. So something is not a "good thing", but it is not that the tardigrades were sent to the moon.

If you cannot send tardigrades to the moon, you cannot send people to the moon.

some deeper problems, first of all, who gave the astrobiologists moon? and the moon for astrobiologists is like giving the ichthyologists' stratosphere.

But what about Mars? Unlike the moon, the Red Planet really represents a significant legitimate interest in astrobiology, while the lunar-surface combination of daytime temperatures of 127 degrees Celsius. (260 Fahrenheit) and a solid vacuum would qualify it as an excellent laboratory autoclave that completely eliminates any viable microbial life, Mars does not have such a ban. In addition, unlike the cold, dry, very thin layers prevailing there at the moment, early Mars is warm and wet, with a dense atmosphere of CO2, which makes it close to Earth at the time when life first appeared here . In this way, life could develop on Mars and even if it could no longer survive on the surface, it could leave behind fossils and even still exist in underground submerged reservoirs. Wouldn't science be served by banning Mars humans?

No. Hunting fossils on Earth requires long distances to be traversed through unchanged terrain, hard work with picks and delicate work, peeling off layers of precipitated rocks to reveal the remains of life trapped inside. Finding and characterizing Mars' existing life will require the installation of drilling rigs to investigate hundreds of meters in the ground and take samples of water, and then undergo biological testing and biochemical tests in a laboratory. All these operations are light years beyond the capabilities of robotic rowers. As for the objection that if we send humans to Mars, we will not know if the life we ​​find there is local or something we have brought ourselves, that is nonsense. If this is local life, it will leave fossils or other biomarkers to prove their existence on Mars before our arrival. This is how we know that there was life on Earth before humans came here. To believe the opposite is to agree with the creationists who claim that fossils do not prove the existence of life on Earth before humans, because God could create a planet with fossils involved. This is not science.

We do not have to wait for human missions to become feasible for planetary protectionism to harm Mars exploration, he is already doing so. In 2015, the Curiosity rover shipped to Mars at a cost to US taxpayers of more than $ 2 billion was blocked for reasons of planetary protection from exploration of nearby locations where groundwater appears to be entering the surface. They may contain germs or microbial residues. NASA's Mars Mars sampling mission is extremely complex, with multiple autonomous rendezvous and docking operations included in the mission plan to meet planetary protection requirements. These include not only "protecting" the surface of Mars from (impossible) contamination by microbes transmitted from Earth, but also protecting the Earth from (impossible) microbes living on the surface of Mars (which, if they existed, would have long arrived here on its own driving many of the 500 kg naturally discharged rocks of Mars that arrive here every year.) As a result, the return of the sample is turned from mission to vision. In fact, because of the burden imposed on the design of the planet's requirements for protection of the planet, NASA has not sent an experiment to discover life on Mars since 1976.

So here we are, spending billions on a robotic planetary exploration program and dozens billions for human and outer space flight programs, while sending those programs to planetary restraints that prevent them from achieving their goals – restrictions whose absurd bases are stripped of the readiness of their defenders require fanatically their application even samosterilizirashta environment as Earth's Moon.

But there is one bigger question. It's not just a question of who gave the moon to astrobiologists, but also who gave the Universe to professional scientists. People do not exist to serve for scientific research. There are scientific studies to serve humanity. We learned a lot of science when we settled America, but that's not why we did it. We will gain tremendous new knowledge, becoming a cosmic species, but we should not do so. We must do this to create new branches of human civilization that will enrich human history in the future as much as human colonization on Earth enriches it tremendously compared to what it would be if we remained in our original homeland in Kenya Rift Valley. We will create new nations, sport new languages, literatures, inventions, traditions and heroes on new worlds full of wonders to be discovered, but certainly a story waiting to be done.

Our presence will not "pollute" these worlds, but enrich them fabulously. Settling them is not "imperialism" but construction. Humans are not parasites. We are creators, not destroyers. The living world is better than the dead world. The world of thinking beings is better than the world of deprived beings. We are not enemies of life and thought, we are their vanguard. This is our place to continue the work of creation. If we can, we should not just bring Mars back to life, but bring Mars back to life.

I think we will. And when we have, no one will be able to look at our work and not feel more proud to be human.

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