Closing the barn door after the horses have left...

New Scientist: Earth life could invade Mars on contaminated craft

NASA needs to clean up its robotic spacecraft better or risk colonising Mars with terrestrial microbes, an expert panel has warned.

But it says the reforms will probably take at least a decade to put in place, raising the chance that earthly life could still stow away on spacecraft scheduled to visit the Red Planet before then - if it has not done so already.

Already, indeed. By my reading of the Wikipedia article on Exploration of Mars, at least 10 Earth-launched devices have landed or crashed on Mars: Mars 3 (1971), Mars 6 (1973), Vikings 1 and 2 (1975), Pathfinder (1996), Polar Lander (1999), Deep Space 2 Mini Probes (1999), Beagle 2 (2003), and the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers (2003).

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