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posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 24, @03:23PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Andromeda-Strain dept.

Space Biosecurity: Scientists Warn that Alien Organisms on Earth May Become a Reality Stranger than Fiction:

Scientists warn, without good biosecurity measures 'alien organisms' on Earth may become a reality stranger than fiction.

Published in international journal BioSciences, a team of scientists, including Dr. Phill Cassey, Head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Adelaide, are calling for greater recognition of the biosecurity risks ahead of the space industry.

"In addition to government-led space missions, the arrival of private companies such as SpaceX has meant there are now more players in space exploration than ever before," said Associate Professor Cassey.

"We need to take action now to mitigate those risks."

Space biosecurity concerns itself with both the transfer of organisms from Earth to space (forward contamination) and vice-versa (backward contamination). While the research points out that at present the risk of alien organisms surviving the journey is low, it's not impossible.

Dr. Cassey said: "Risks that have low probability of occurrence, but have the potential for extreme consequences, are at the heart of biosecurity management. Because when things go wrong, they go really wrong."

Journal Reference:
Anthony Ricciardi, Phillip Cassey, Stefan Leuko, et al. Planetary Biosecurity: Applying Invasion Science to Prevent Biological Contamination from Space Travel, BioScience (DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biab115)


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  • (Score: 0, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @03:27PM (13 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @03:27PM (#1199216)

    When man stumbles over some biological threat in space, he will bring it right straight back to earth. The talking heads in MSM media will tell us that it would be racisss to abandon the infected individuals out there in space, and that we need to hug a spaceman to get over our racisss attitudes.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @03:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @03:29PM (#1199217)
      If I thought you espoused those viewpoints, I'd mod you disagree or flamebait, but I'm pretty sure that's a somewhat realistic depiction of some of the reactions we might expect to see, given varying levels of xenophobia/philia.
    • (Score: 3, Touché) by choose another one on Wednesday November 24, @03:52PM (5 children)

      by choose another one (515) on Wednesday November 24, @03:52PM (#1199220)

      When man stumbles over some batological threat in a cave, he will bring it straight back out to the surface. The talking heads in MSM media will tell us that it would be racisss to abandon the infected individuals in the cave, and that we need to hug a caveman to get over our racisss attitudes.

      FTFY, *cough*.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @04:18PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @04:18PM (#1199226)

        Ok Batman.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday November 24, @06:26PM (1 child)

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 24, @06:26PM (#1199258) Journal

          For those who didn't see the TV show in the 1960's, Bruce Wayne (and his youthful ward Dick Grayson) were Incels.

          In one particular episode where it is necessary to temporarily set up a batcave in the UK in order to catch Lord Fogg, they fail to make mention of having to adapt the Bat Computer for 240 VAC.

          --
          This Christmas season is the most likely to see Missile Tow instead of large artillery pieces being toed.
          • (Score: 2) by pdfernhout on Friday November 26, @04:59PM

            by pdfernhout (5984) on Friday November 26, @04:59PM (#1199792) Homepage

            Maybe the Dynamic Duo brought over a portable nuclear generator to power the Bat computer?
            https://newatlas.com/energy/radiant-portable-advanced-nuclear/ [newatlas.com]
            "California company Radiant has secured funding to develop a compact, portable, "low-cost" one-megawatt nuclear micro-reactor that fits in a shipping container, powers about 1,000 homes and uses a helium coolant instead of water."

            --
            The biggest challenge of the 21st century: the irony of technologies of abundance used by scarcity-minded people.
      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Wednesday November 24, @08:47PM (1 child)

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday November 24, @08:47PM (#1199341) Homepage Journal

        Racist? You've been watching too much Star Trek. Specist. The vegan nutjobs are already using that term. And you're NOT going to find any aliens that look anything like humans; how much do you resemble a squid? An elephant, and they're even mammals? A spider? And all those species arose from the first abiogenesis on Earth and you expect anything like Vulcans from a completely separate abiogenesis on another planet or moon??

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 2, Funny) by khallow on Wednesday November 24, @09:15PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 24, @09:15PM (#1199359) Journal

          And all those species arose from the first abiogenesis on Earth and you expect anything like Vulcans from a completely separate abiogenesis on another planet or moon??

          Well, that's going to make it pretty weird for Captain Kirk. Not that I would fail to watch the YouTube videos.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday November 24, @04:20PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday November 24, @04:20PM (#1199227) Journal

      Or....y'know...abandoning people to die of asphyxiation is wrong....

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Wednesday November 24, @08:38PM (3 children)

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday November 24, @08:38PM (#1199333) Homepage Journal

      I don't think you'll find any biological threats. I suspect that if/when we do find life, it will be so different that infection won't be possible. Extraterrestrial life may be based on completely different chemistry, and I don't see the danger.

      Keeping our bugs off of other bodies is something different. We already contaminated the moon with life when that Indian lander crashed. And we've been at it for such a short time... you better hope aliens ARE chemically incompatible, because we are a species prone to incompetence!

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday November 24, @11:25PM (2 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 24, @11:25PM (#1199379) Homepage Journal

        LOL - I read a story years ago about a predator. He didn't want any meat or fluids from humans. He needed the phosphorus found in our bones. It was something of an annoyance to dismantle the human body to get at those precious chemicals, but a predator does what a predator has to do.

        --
        👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
    • (Score: 2) by arslan on Thursday November 25, @03:30AM

      by arslan (3462) on Thursday November 25, @03:30AM (#1199424)

      They're just saying "space covid" which isn't unreasonable. We really should at least think about it somewhat and not react when the shit hits the fan like it did with covid.

  • (Score: 2) by oumuamua on Wednesday November 24, @05:17PM (4 children)

    by oumuamua (8401) on Wednesday November 24, @05:17PM (#1199236)

    We still haven't proven that live exists anywhere in the galaxy except Earth, and now this elusive life shows up on our doorstep as a gift horse and we want to incinerate it?

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday November 24, @05:36PM (2 children)

      by HiThere (866) on Wednesday November 24, @05:36PM (#1199238) Journal

      It's paranoid foolishness. The "forwards contamination" argument is a bit reasonable, if we want to be certain that the life we encountered wasn't something we imported, but anything evolved to live on, say Europa or Mars would be at a MASSIVE disadvantage for even surviving under earth conditions. And that's if nothing ate it. (Microbes will even eat some plastics, which were specifically designed so that they wouldn't do that. I think Teflon is safe against that, but not much else except in the short run.)

      (FWIW, some plastics are nearly impervious, because their surfaces repell water. A few repell both water and oil. But only flourine bonds are so strong that they can't be broken by chemical attack. This doesn't mean that it won't take awhile for a microbe to eat something to evolve...and it's got to gain some advantage by doing so. But it will happen.)

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      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Common Joe on Wednesday November 24, @07:25PM (1 child)

        by Common Joe (33) <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 24, @07:25PM (#1199297) Journal

        It's paranoid foolishness.

        We literally do not know how easy it is for life to exist outside of our atmosphere. But we are learning. Bacteria, algae, and moss [futurism.com] can survive the hellish rigors of space. And if single celled organisms aren't enough, there are the tardigrades [acs.org]. The panspermia theory [wikipedia.org] became a hypothesis the same year the Wright Brothers flew a plane for the first time.

        We know life can exists in space. We simply don't know how easy it is for life to adapt one way or another -- or how dangerous it is. I mean, less than a century ago, we were giving out jewerly made out of radioactive materials [epa.gov] and making people sick. A mistake of this kind might not kill all life on Earth, but it could kill most trees. Or all the bees. Of course, it would really suck if an invasive species [noaa.gov] wiped out the plankton in our oceans [noaa.gov]. (I don't think humans would survive that one.)

        So, no, not paranoid foolishness.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Wednesday November 24, @09:07PM

          by HiThere (866) on Wednesday November 24, @09:07PM (#1199355) Journal

          If they can survive, they're probably already here. We've got fragments known to be from Mars and the Moon. Dust from outer space rains down all the time. But everything we've checked uses the same protein selection and pretty much the same genetic code. Anything larger than a virus and we can say it uses a close modification of the same ribosome protein pattern. So they've all got common ancestry.

          Worrying about this is paranoid foolishness. It's not literally impossible, but the probability is so low that it's not worth worrying about. Now if we find a working ecosystem somewhere else, then I'd revise my priors and say we ought to check this carefully. But I still wouldn't be very worried.

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday November 24, @11:27PM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 24, @11:27PM (#1199381) Homepage Journal

      Life in the universe is still not convinced that there is life on earth. We need to get out there, and disabuse them of the idea that earth is dead.

      --
      👌 Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. - Kenosha Jury
  • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Wednesday November 24, @06:17PM

    by Hartree (195) on Wednesday November 24, @06:17PM (#1199255)

    Not to worry. Major Arthur Mancheck, the head of Project Scoop has a phone number to call in case of just this sort of thing.

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday November 24, @06:31PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 24, @06:31PM (#1199261) Journal

    What if it were possible to build an underground zoo like facility to confine and enslave non terrestrial organisms for the public amusement? This could be done under the guise of scientific study. The facility could be equipped with a nuclear sterilization mechanism in case unvaccinated persons invaded the facility. In the event of sterilization, the heirs of visitors on that day would be issued a refund.

    --
    This Christmas season is the most likely to see Missile Tow instead of large artillery pieces being toed.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @07:26PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @07:26PM (#1199299)

    The last two years have proven the human race is in bigger danger of extinction
    from ourselves.
     

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday November 24, @09:10PM

      by HiThere (866) on Wednesday November 24, @09:10PM (#1199358) Journal

      Not just the last two years. That's been proven over and over. Even the Cuban Missle Crisis wasn't the first occasion.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 2) by Mojibake Tengu on Wednesday November 24, @08:31PM

    by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Wednesday November 24, @08:31PM (#1199326) Journal

    I am sure this alien organisms contamination will be very good for business in emerging vax industry.

    --
    The edge of 太玄 cannot be defined, for it is beyond every aspect of design
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, @08:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, @08:18PM (#1199631)

    the space contamination will prolly be in form of of shape-shifting alien lizards with winning personalities that open native-human-kind-"saving" bio- and genetic research labs ...

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