Let’s hope we DON’T find water on Mars: Nasa’s mistake installing drill means we may end up contaminating the planet with microbes

When the Curiosity finally extends its drill and bites into the dusty surface of the Red Planet, Nasa scientists will be quietly hoping that the Mars rover will not find ice beneath the surface.

Eye of the storm: The drill bit on the Curiosity was screwed in to place in an unsterile environment – sparking fears we may end up ‘seeding Mars with life’

For if it does, it will blow open a scandal that has been ‘simmering’ inside Nasa for the last year: the fact that the drill bits may well be infected with Earth bacteria – bacteria which could survive on Mars.

The possible contamination occurred six months ago, when engineers peeked inside the drill mechanism without permission in order to attach one more piece.

If the drill touches water, there is every chance the bacteria could live.

This would be a crisis for Nasa: to meddle with the biological make-up of planet which, for all we know so far, may still have native microbes of its own kind.

According to the LA Times, Nasa does not expect to find water – the space agency chose the dry equatorial landing site in Mars’ Gale Crater to study the planet’s geology, not in a bid to find water or ice.

But, the paper adds: ‘If by chance the rover Curiosity does find H2O, a controversy that has simmered at NASA for nearly a year will burst into the open.’

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