As we explore Mars and other places in the solar system that might have life, scientists who work in Planetary Protection are busy making sure that we don’t contaminate them. While engineers prepare the Perseverance Rover for launch, Lisa Pratt, NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer, is making sure that it’s not carrying too many spores — cells that could re-activate and transport Earthly bacteria to Mars. It’s especially important to keep Perseverance clean because it will collect samples on Mars that will one day return to Earth. Learn what your hand sanitizer has in common with NASA’s clean rooms, and how scientists are thinking about protecting Mars in terms of future human missions.
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