Sunday, August 02, 2015

Exoplanet Discoveries Could Bring Alien Plague

Exoplanet Discoveries Could Bring Alien Plague

After the recent discovery of several exoplanets bearing similarities to Earth, and ever-furthering space exploration missions, Russian journalist Vladimir Pokrovsky asks if it is time to rethink the measures we take to prevent infection by alien organisms.
     The recent discovery of the exoplanet Kepler-452b brings excitement at the possibility of finally encountering alien life, writes Vladimir Pokrovsky in, but with it the risk of contamination from alien microbes, an issue first referred to in the Outer Space Treaty, signed by the US, USSR and Great Britain in 1967.

According to the treaty, which has been signed and ratified by more than 100 countries:
"States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose."
"The trouble is, that half a century has passed since the treaty was signed, and scientists still haven't reached agreement over how to observe it," writes Pokrovsky. . . .

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