Lewis Dartnell, Professor in Science Communication, was interviewed for Sakal Times on his work in the field of astrobiology and the search for microbial life on Mars.
In his interview, Professor Dartnell spoke about the possibility of human settlement on Mars, the signs of life on the Red Planet, the discovery of a second Earth, the pressing issue of global warming and the question of a potential existence of aliens.
Speaking about the possibility to have human settlement on Mars, Professor Dartnell said: “In terms of astrobiology, we want to explore Mars using robots as fully as we can before we send humans. To avoid contamination of the surface of Mars, we can cleanse and sterilise a robot, we can decontaminate it from any kind of bacteria, but sterilising a human is fatal. The moment we send a set of humans to Mars, we are almost sure to contaminate its surface. We want to avoid that as much as possible.”
Professor Dartnell also mentioned the launch of ExoMars in 2020, a rover built by the European Space Agency, to explore the Red Planet and detect the possibility of life. He commented: “ExoMars is like a mini laboratory with wheels at the bottom and solar panels and cameras at the top. With the gathered information, we would then design experiments to look for life on Mars.”
He added: “Although I think human settlement on Mars might happen sooner or later, in general terms, having humans on more than one planet in self sustaining colonies is a good idea as we are not keeping all of our eggs in one basket that way. However, it is not easy and cannot be treated even as an option. We absolutely have to protect our planet to the best of our ability.”