Scientists Say Elon Musk's Space Roadster May Be A 'Biothreat'

Scientists Say Elon Musk's Space Roadster May Be A 'Biothreat'”

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster which was launched into space on 6 February in a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is destined to reach the orbit of Mars in a couple of years from now.

NASA's Office of Planetary Protection ensures bacteria are wiped from any spacecraft meant to land on another planet.

The auto, which was launched on board the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in February, is potentially carrying the most "earthly bacteria to ever enter space", according to Purdue University researchers.

Jay Melosh, a professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue, explained in a statement: "Even if they radiated the outside, the engine would be dirty".

While intense cosmic radiation, low pressure and extreme temperatures make it impossible for animals like humans to survive in space, tiny bacteria can persist in a dormant state.

The fear is that if the vehicle was to ever to burn up in Mars' atmosphere, traces of Earth's bacteria could wipe out potential life on the red planet. Not necessarily, said Alina Alexeenko, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue. Sterilization is essential because bacteria can survive even in the vacuum of space.

Transporting terrestrial microbes to another planet could be setting the stage for a microbial battleground, in which Earth bacteria take on native bacteria and overwhelm them, the scientists warned.

As of today (Mar. 5), the Roadster has reached a distance of almost 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) from Earth, according to the live-tracking website Where Is Roadster? But a new report states that the auto along with its dummy mannequin named "Starman" might contaminate Mars with microorganisms and bacteria from Earth if it does enter Mars' atmosphere. For example, at the time of writing, the auto was 7.23 million kilometres from Earth, travelling at 11,761km/h. Musk's auto will reach its closest position to Mars in October 2020, passing by at a distance of about 4.4 million miles (7 million km).

While this does raise concerns, it is unlikely that the Tesla Roadster will deviate from its path, enough to drive it into Martian lands.

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