Mars exploration is a still-growing focus for the international space community, and organizations worldwide have their sights set on obtaining Martian samples back to Earth over the next ten or so years.
According to Scientific American, some scientists aren't happy about the rock retrieving missions. Many fear that Martian samples could contain unknown, potentially life threatening interplanetary pathogens, and in a public NASA forum they expressed these worries.
One person asked if he was out of his mind. "Hell no."
One person said that no nation should put the planet at risk.
Many experts agree with NASA that the mission presents little to no risk to environmental or human safety.
Astrobiologist Steve Benner told the magazine that if Martian materials presented a threat to Earth, we would know by now. Approximately 500 kilograms of Martian material make their way to Earth each year, due to the fact that Mars is often bombarded by asteroids. A piece of Red Planet is on his desk.
trillions of other rocks have made similar journeys since life appeared on Earth, according to an astronomer. "If Mars microbiota exist and can wreak havoc on Earth, it has already happened, and a few more kilograms from NASA won't make a difference."
NASA's approach is taken seriously. The American space agency plans to store the samples in an off-site biolab near the remote US Air Force facility in Utah where the proposed retrieval is set to land.
There are unknowns when exploring the unknown. With stakes so high, it's worth entertaining a debate about how to mitigate risk.
There is controversy over whether Mars samples endanger Earth.
Scientists are worried about a military facility storing Mars rocks.