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Mars: how scientists prevent Earth's microbes from contaminating other planets

By Thomas Cheney, Lecturer of Space Governance, The Open University
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There are two planned Mars landings in 2021. First, Nasa’s Perseverance rover is due to land on the planet later this month. Then China’s Tianwen rover will follow in May. Both missions intend to search the planet for signs of life.

But how do we make sure when our landers touch down on the red planet’s surface, nothing unwanted is landing with them? If we aren’t careful, we could be spreading all sorts of life – like in 2019, when a spacecraft

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