Author Topic: Possible cost-reduction possibilities for the NASA portions of MSR  (Read 104104 times)

Offline matthewkantar

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One thing (among many many many others) that should bother people about using Starship for MSR: the looooong elevator ride needed to bring the samples "inside". More generally: how tall that thing is, and how far from the ground the "cargo door" will be. Lots of things could go wrong during that ride.

You got out of Earth’s gravity well and atmosphere, traveled across millions of miles of vacuum, survived reentry at Mars and defied its gravity to touch down softly, now a hundred feet on a rope is daunting?

Offline deadman1204

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One thing (among many many many others) that should bother people about using Starship for MSR: the looooong elevator ride needed to bring the samples "inside". More generally: how tall that thing is, and how far from the ground the "cargo door" will be. Lots of things could go wrong during that ride.

You got out of Earth’s gravity well and atmosphere, traveled across millions of miles of vacuum, survived reentry at Mars and defied its gravity to touch down softly, now a hundred feet on a rope is daunting?
On the other hand, starship can be the first handicapped accessible space ship!

Offline JayWee

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Starship facilitates the solutions by relaxing mass constraints dramatically. 

Can you describe the specific challenges with MSR that drive up the cost? Can you then describe how relaxing mass constraints solves those specific challenges?
The NASA MSR reports do talk in couple of places of mass challenges.

Quote from: MSR IRB-1 Report
Findings:
Significant reduction in MAV mass allowance earlier this year (from 525 kg to 320kg) increases its design and performance risks even with an unguided second stage.
Recommendations:
Increase the MAV mass allowance

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
Over the past year, efforts to simplify the CCRS design and to save mass resulted in changes to the plan for backward planetary protection. Thermal sterilization or fitting of the seal on the container enclosing the OS was replaced by use of UltraViolet (UV) illumination to decontaminate possible Martian biohazards on the OS exterior.

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
The mass margins against launch vehicles’ performance are insufficient or lack adequate understanding to support the SRL/MAV and ERO/CCRS.

Offline deadman1204

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Starship facilitates the solutions by relaxing mass constraints dramatically. 

Can you describe the specific challenges with MSR that drive up the cost? Can you then describe how relaxing mass constraints solves those specific challenges?
The NASA MSR reports do talk in couple of places of mass challenges.

Quote from: MSR IRB-1 Report
Findings:
Significant reduction in MAV mass allowance earlier this year (from 525 kg to 320kg) increases its design and performance risks even with an unguided second stage.
Recommendations:
Increase the MAV mass allowance

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
Over the past year, efforts to simplify the CCRS design and to save mass resulted in changes to the plan for backward planetary protection. Thermal sterilization or fitting of the seal on the container enclosing the OS was replaced by use of UltraViolet (UV) illumination to decontaminate possible Martian biohazards on the OS exterior.

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
The mass margins against launch vehicles’ performance are insufficient or lack adequate understanding to support the SRL/MAV and ERO/CCRS.
Can starship even land on mars? Will it tip over? Can it not destroy itself trying to land on rubble? Can it take off again? With what fuel? Can it take off without destroying its engines from all the the rubble?
What does it do after it lands besides "deploy the payload" whatever that means? Can it land anywhere near the site? Is there anywhere safe for it to land neraby? It won't have a fleet of geo satellies, plus ground radars feeding it location info to navigate with (like all spacex rockets use for landing). No weather service to give useful data about windspeeds and air density at every part of the atmosphere. Pinpoint landing is impossible without all that guidance infrastructure which won't exist. What are the chances it destroys itself by hitting a boulder? Or just lands way more than 5km off target in a bad spot? Cause on mars, landing within 5km of your target is not bad.

Just landing starship on mars creates hundreds of new very difficult technical problems. All of which take alot of money and time to address. Many cannot be solved (landing on a rock field). You just hope for the best? Do we risk the entire mission on starship tipping over cause its too rocky or the soil cannot support such a heavy thing on a couple landing legs?

Please explain how adding starship fixes more problems than it causes.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2024 08:32 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline JayWee

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Can starship even land on mars?
Why do you keep insisting it has to? It doesn't. As I mentioned upthread, either:
a) Refuel and push MSR to TMI, deploy.
b) Refuel, fly and brake to Mars Low Orbit, and drop MSR off.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2024 08:59 pm by JayWee »

Offline deadman1204

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Can starship even land on mars?
Why do you keep insisting it has to? It doesn't. As I mentioned upthread, either:
a) Refuel and push MSR to TMI, deploy.
b) Refuel, fly and brake to Mars Low Orbit, and drop MSR off.
So what does this gain us?

The mass constraints of msr are related to landing on mars and taking off from mars. Neither of these are solved by having starship go to mars and holding msr the entire time.
How does starship help in any way? In fact, what purpose does it serve at all? Besides draining huge amounts of money from nasa to pay spaceX to figure out how to make a starship go to mars and function in space for so long. Its not helping with landing now. Its just waiting to release its payload until mars orbit? Yet we gotta hope that it can do so after being in space for 9 months? That it can maintain power and fuel and operations just fine? Yes these are possible, but all big projects that nasa will have to pay spaceX to do. Will it be able to deploy after being shut for 9 months in space? Things stick all the time in space. starship doesn't have explosively seperated fairings (unless you're now proposing nasa pay piles of money for a custom fairing). Spacex doesn't do anything for free.
Without starship, existing tech can be used for the journey through space - well understood stuff. Starship will require a new suite of things to support an entire rocket. It'll need the power to support all the payloads inside too (which will ahve to be hard wired into starship to get power - something that isn't normal on launch). Plus a deployment 9 months after launch - where the payload is hardwired for power and such? Those are some huge failure point that starship introduces. Still waiting for a benefit.

I'm not hating on starship here. I'm just waiting to see ANY MSR plan where starship makes a positive difference.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2024 09:22 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline Vultur

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I agree stapling Starship into the existing automated MSR plan would be a big mess. Starship isn't designed to do the whole thing automated - its refueling all along requires humans to set up the ISRU equipment to make the return fuel.

I disagree that Starship would need GPS or an equivalent to do precision landing; Mars landers are imprecise since they're largely parachute dependent. Starship will be much more propulsion & therefore capable of much greater accuracy. Maybe not quite as good as F9 barge landing accuracy, but kilometers is not at all plausible IMO.

(I disagree that Elon Musk isn't serious about Mars: he's just doing things step by step, and it doesn't make sense to push for Mars until the infrastructure is in place. But it's always been about Mars, since before SpaceX was founded. If the Russians had sold him a rocket to get a greenhouse to Mars back around 2000, SpaceX wouldn't exist.)

Now, if Starship development gets to the point that humans on Mars looks near-term plausible, and that happens before MSR launches, people will likely ask if paying the cost of MSR makes sense given the likelihood of humans bringing back samples.

But NASA planetary science is a separate thing from human space flight (that wasn't so much the case in the 1960s, with Ranger and Surveyor leading up to Apollo, but it's been true for a long time). And Starship is really audacious - so the people responsible for MSR aren't going to buy a "people bring back the samples" plan.

Also, the places SpaceX is going to want to land aren't the places of greatest scientific value. SpaceX will probably want to specifically *avoid* the places of greatest scientific value, to get less planetary protection opposition.

Offline Don2

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I don't have much interest in discussing Starship. If I did I would post this on the section of the forum which is dedicated to that project. However, since this thread is being invaded by Starship fans I am going to explain why I don't see it as a solution.

Every generation has a couple of aerospace fantasies. In the 1970s, people thought the Shuttle would fly once a week and would cost $10 million per mission. That dream died with Challenger. In the 80s there was the Strategic Defense Initiative, the 'peace shield' against nuclear missiles. There was also the National Aerospace plane, which was going to fly from New York to Tokyo in 2 hours or so.

This generation's fantasy project is Starship. I know that there is some real hardware which has managed to clear the launch tower without blowing up the launch site. It has not managed to get to low Earth orbit yet. And it is a very very long ways from landing on Mars.

The are at least three elements of the Starship architecture that may be impossible to make real. They are:

1/ Refueling with large amounts of cryogenic propellants in low Earth orbit. This has never been done. Cryogenic liquids will produce vapor. Liquid and vapor will not easily separate in zero-g.

2/ First stage reuse. Their current plan is to fly the stage back to the launch tower and catch it with the arms. That is the most bats**t crazy part of their entire architecture. I'll believe it when I see it. If they can't reuse the first stage then each expendable Starship will cost $500 million to $1 billion. They will need between 8 to 16 tanker flights to refuel a Mars bound ship, for a cost of 4 to 16 billion dollars. If they can't catch the first stage and reuse it, Mars trips will never be affordable.

3/ Entry and soft landing of the second stage. They are trying to build a much larger version of the Space Shuttle for a tiny fraction of the budget. I'll believe that when I see it.

I'm not going to take Starship seriously as an option for Mars Sample Return until I see all three of those elements demonstrated in flight. The most likely outcome for Starship is that they run into a problem they can't solve, and Elon loses interest. They may deliver some useful hardware, but they will fall short of being a Mars transportation system.

I haven't said anything about one of the most difficult parts of MSR, which is planetary protection. I think that a returned sample would retire all of those concerns. Chlorates in the Martian soil will probably sterilize any equipment which is sent there. And I don't believe there is any chance of finding a Mars organism which could threaten Earth. MSR is probably a necessary precursor to any Starship landing.


Offline Vultur

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And I don't believe there is any chance of finding a Mars organism which could threaten Earth.

Well, yeah. It's impossible.

There may or may not be life on Mars, but there very certainly is not a major biosphere with macroscopic complex life. Pathogenicity is an adaptation - with no complex life forms w/ immune systems to attack, it won't exist.

Ecological threats are even more impossible - probably ruled out by physics, not just biology. Mars is essentially anoxic, so Mars life will either be anaerobic (thus incredibly uncompetitive in energy terms with aerobic life) or use an exotic oxidizer like perchlorate (which isn't widely available on Earth). Either way not remotely competitive.

This isn't sending rabbits to Australia; on this scale, Mediterranean Europe and Australia are essentially identical environments.

The scientific angle of planetary protection is more defensible, but still kind of obsolete with 21st century knowledge. With 1960s-1970s science, Earth contamination might be impossible to distinguish from native Mars life. It was really hard to study microorganisms you couldn't culture in a petri dish. But now we have metagenomics - direct genetic analysis of environmental samples. Either it fits on Earth's tree of life, or it doesn't.

But planetary protection got written into law in the 1960s, back when very little was actually known about DNA or exotic microbial metabolisms, and so we're stuck with it.

Offline thespacecow

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I don't have much interest in discussing Starship. If I did I would post this on the section of the forum which is dedicated to that project. However, since this thread is being invaded by Starship fans I am going to explain why I don't see it as a solution.

It's not being "being invaded by Starship fans", this thread is literally started for Starship fans to discuss the possibility of using Starship for MSR, so that they wouldn't fill the main MSR thread with Starship stuff, see this post and this post.

So I ask again: If you think the POR MSR architecture is the modern wonder of the world and Starship is just fantasy, feel free to leave this thread and go back to the main MSR thread, otherwise know that discussing Starship is very much on topic for this thread.

Quote
This generation's fantasy project is Starship. I know that there is some real hardware which has managed to clear the launch tower without blowing up the launch site. It has not managed to get to low Earth orbit yet. And it is a very very long ways from landing on Mars.

The are at least three elements of the Starship architecture that may be impossible to make real. They are:

Funny that NASA already invested $4B in what you claimed to be a modern fantasy...
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 04:49 am by thespacecow »

Offline thespacecow

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Starship facilitates the solutions by relaxing mass constraints dramatically. 

Can you describe the specific challenges with MSR that drive up the cost? Can you then describe how relaxing mass constraints solves those specific challenges?
The NASA MSR reports do talk in couple of places of mass challenges.

Quote from: MSR IRB-1 Report
Findings:
Significant reduction in MAV mass allowance earlier this year (from 525 kg to 320kg) increases its design and performance risks even with an unguided second stage.
Recommendations:
Increase the MAV mass allowance

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
Over the past year, efforts to simplify the CCRS design and to save mass resulted in changes to the plan for backward planetary protection. Thermal sterilization or fitting of the seal on the container enclosing the OS was replaced by use of UltraViolet (UV) illumination to decontaminate possible Martian biohazards on the OS exterior.

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
The mass margins against launch vehicles’ performance are insufficient or lack adequate understanding to support the SRL/MAV and ERO/CCRS.

Exactly, there's also the following in IRB-2 slidedeck:

Quote from: IRB-2 page 13, MSR: A Highly Constrained and Challenging Campaign
• Tight mass margins, uncertainties in launch vehicles’ performance and/or contracts

Quote from: IRB-2 page 48, F16 and R16: Helicopter Accommodation Risk Balance
Helicopter capability is limited by Mars atmosphere and site safety conditions. Accommodation on SRL [Sample Return Lander] is significantly constrained by the small amount of volume and mass available and by unique initial release and takeoff challenges.

Offline Emmettvonbrown

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One thing (among many many many others) that should bother people about using Starship for MSR: the looooong elevator ride needed to bring the samples "inside". More generally: how tall that thing is, and how far from the ground the "cargo door" will be. Lots of things could go wrong during that ride.

You got out of Earth’s gravity well and atmosphere, traveled across millions of miles of vacuum, survived reentry at Mars and defied its gravity to touch down softly, now a hundred feet on a rope is daunting?

Yes. Adds multiple failure modes to an already long list. Say what you want about present MSR, it doesn't need to precariously hoist the samples almost 200 ft high.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 02:58 pm by Emmettvonbrown »

Offline deadman1204

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And I don't believe there is any chance of finding a Mars organism which could threaten Earth.

Well, yeah. It's impossible.

There may or may not be life on Mars, but there very certainly is not a major biosphere with macroscopic complex life. Pathogenicity is an adaptation - with no complex life forms w/ immune systems to attack, it won't exist.

Ecological threats are even more impossible - probably ruled out by physics, not just biology. Mars is essentially anoxic, so Mars life will either be anaerobic (thus incredibly uncompetitive in energy terms with aerobic life) or use an exotic oxidizer like perchlorate (which isn't widely available on Earth). Either way not remotely competitive.

This isn't sending rabbits to Australia; on this scale, Mediterranean Europe and Australia are essentially identical environments.

The scientific angle of planetary protection is more defensible, but still kind of obsolete with 21st century knowledge. With 1960s-1970s science, Earth contamination might be impossible to distinguish from native Mars life. It was really hard to study microorganisms you couldn't culture in a petri dish. But now we have metagenomics - direct genetic analysis of environmental samples. Either it fits on Earth's tree of life, or it doesn't.

But planetary protection got written into law in the 1960s, back when very little was actually known about DNA or exotic microbial metabolisms, and so we're stuck with it.
So NASA and most every biologist disagrees with you.
Yes there won't be a "mars plague" that makes people sick. But no scientist is concerned about a disease. They are concerned about some bacteria like thing that can survive on earth. That will displace earth life instead. Same basic idea of invasive species.

It seems you are unaware, but there is an awful lot of anaerobic life on earth, much of it obligately anaerobic. Lots of life has been shown to survive on the ISS. Earth life has been shown to be able to survive mars like conditions. Its not hard to imagine the reverse of that.

Not only does your argument ignore all science, its designed to frame planetary protection as a bad old thing which must be discarded to make way for the mars colonies that elon musk is going to build for you.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 03:01 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline deadman1204

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Starship facilitates the solutions by relaxing mass constraints dramatically. 

Can you describe the specific challenges with MSR that drive up the cost? Can you then describe how relaxing mass constraints solves those specific challenges?
The NASA MSR reports do talk in couple of places of mass challenges.

Quote from: MSR IRB-1 Report
Findings:
Significant reduction in MAV mass allowance earlier this year (from 525 kg to 320kg) increases its design and performance risks even with an unguided second stage.
Recommendations:
Increase the MAV mass allowance

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
Over the past year, efforts to simplify the CCRS design and to save mass resulted in changes to the plan for backward planetary protection. Thermal sterilization or fitting of the seal on the container enclosing the OS was replaced by use of UltraViolet (UV) illumination to decontaminate possible Martian biohazards on the OS exterior.

Quote from: MSR IRB-2 Report
The mass margins against launch vehicles’ performance are insufficient or lack adequate understanding to support the SRL/MAV and ERO/CCRS.

Exactly, there's also the following in IRB-2 slidedeck:

Quote from: IRB-2 page 13, MSR: A Highly Constrained and Challenging Campaign
• Tight mass margins, uncertainties in launch vehicles’ performance and/or contracts

Quote from: IRB-2 page 48, F16 and R16: Helicopter Accommodation Risk Balance
Helicopter capability is limited by Mars atmosphere and site safety conditions. Accommodation on SRL [Sample Return Lander] is significantly constrained by the small amount of volume and mass available and by unique initial release and takeoff challenges.
Please SpaceCow. Please explain how starship will address the huge amounts of basic issues I've described in the last several posts. Please address how starship makes this better. No one ever does, they just ignore all the problems starship creates. If you cannot explain why starship is a good option, this is just more starship fans inserting it into anything space because its starship! You have 99% of space internet for that already.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 03:04 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline mandrewa

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Imagine a Starship delivering 150 metric tons of payload to low Martian orbit in the early 2030s.

And this is a non-standard Starship.  I'll call it the MSR Starship.  It doesn't have to have tiles.  It doesn't have to have flaps.  Its propellant tanks will be a different size than standard.

This MSR Starship will not land on Mars and it will not return to Earth.  It will be expended.

From the perspective of the Mars Sample Return people it almost doesn't matter how the MSR Starship does its thing.  What they care about is that they start off with 150 metric tons of payload in low Martian orbit.

Now does this make it easier to do a Mars sample return mission?  I'm pretty sure it does.  I can't say exactly how much easier.  But I would be surprised if it wasn't about ten times easier than the other architecture that the MSR people are considering.

This doesn't work if you don't have an MSR Starship.  But if you do have it, then it's a big simplification.

What are the obstacles to having an MSR Starship?  Well it has to be economically feasible.  So that means you have to have a recoverable booster.  You have to have recoverable standard Starships, like the LEO Starship Tankers.  And all this is necessary because it takes quite a few Starship launches to set up a MSR Starship mission.

But this overlaps with using the Starship to support lunar missions.  If you can do the one, then eventually you are going to be able to do the other.

Offline RedLineTrain

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Starship facilitates the solutions by relaxing mass constraints dramatically. 

Can you describe the specific challenges with MSR that drive up the cost? Can you then describe how relaxing mass constraints solves those specific challenges?

JayWee was game in searching through the documents for a few hundred kilograms using the current mission concept (the "specific challenges").  Thank you, JayWee.  JayWee may be right that there are things that baselining Starship as the launch vehicle could do to alleviate the most acute mass constraints, even if it doesn't land.  But it looks to me like that could still leave us on a trajectory for a 2030 launch at a $10 billion cost to NASA.  The Senate has indicated that anything looking like this trajectory is not fundable, so I look toward kicking the can down the road to the 2030s and doing a hard reboot based on what we assume will be the available technologies then.

Looking under the hood feels like we are doing a post mortem rather than planning for the future.  Among the cost drivers were these two.  The first was the complexity of the mission concept, where landed mass was greatly constrained using the existing, proven landing tech stack.  Coordinating all of the pieces of this complex mission toward a definitive launch window was costly, especially since the coordinators didn't have any control over much of the effort.  The second was related to the first:  JPL had an army of personnel that it needed to charge to Mars Sample Return while it was developing and launching the program.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 04:44 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline RedLineTrain

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I'm not going to take Starship seriously as an option for Mars Sample Return until I see all three of those elements demonstrated in flight. The most likely outcome for Starship is that they run into a problem they can't solve, and Elon loses interest. They may deliver some useful hardware, but they will fall short of being a Mars transportation system.

I think we can readily surmise that Starship development is less precarious than the current iteration of MSR.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 04:59 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline deadman1204

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Imagine a Starship delivering 150 metric tons of payload to low Martian orbit in the early 2030s.

And this is a non-standard Starship.  I'll call it the MSR Starship.  It doesn't have to have tiles.  It doesn't have to have flaps.  Its propellant tanks will be a different size than standard.

This MSR Starship will not land on Mars and it will not return to Earth.  It will be expended.

From the perspective of the Mars Sample Return people it almost doesn't matter how the MSR Starship does its thing.  What they care about is that they start off with 150 metric tons of payload in low Martian orbit.

Now does this make it easier to do a Mars sample return mission?  I'm pretty sure it does.  I can't say exactly how much easier.  But I would be surprised if it wasn't about ten times easier than the other architecture that the MSR people are considering.

This doesn't work if you don't have an MSR Starship.  But if you do have it, then it's a big simplification.

What are the obstacles to having an MSR Starship?  Well it has to be economically feasible.  So that means you have to have a recoverable booster.  You have to have recoverable standard Starships, like the LEO Starship Tankers.  And all this is necessary because it takes quite a few Starship launches to set up a MSR Starship mission.

But this overlaps with using the Starship to support lunar missions.  If you can do the one, then eventually you are going to be able to do the other.
This doesn't help in any way. The mass issues are not related to launching it from earth. They are related to landing it on mars, doing stuff on mars, taking off from mars, returning to earth from mars.
Starship solves exactly ZERO things.

Edit: It solves 1 issue. A major program that doesn't involve starship now has starship shoehorned into it to make fans happy.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2024 06:26 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline vjkane

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Isn’t the third landing of Red Dragon occurring this month?

Offline Vultur

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And I don't believe there is any chance of finding a Mars organism which could threaten Earth.

Well, yeah. It's impossible.

There may or may not be life on Mars, but there very certainly is not a major biosphere with macroscopic complex life. Pathogenicity is an adaptation - with no complex life forms w/ immune systems to attack, it won't exist.

Ecological threats are even more impossible - probably ruled out by physics, not just biology. Mars is essentially anoxic, so Mars life will either be anaerobic (thus incredibly uncompetitive in energy terms with aerobic life) or use an exotic oxidizer like perchlorate (which isn't widely available on Earth). Either way not remotely competitive.

This isn't sending rabbits to Australia; on this scale, Mediterranean Europe and Australia are essentially identical environments.

The scientific angle of planetary protection is more defensible, but still kind of obsolete with 21st century knowledge. With 1960s-1970s science, Earth contamination might be impossible to distinguish from native Mars life. It was really hard to study microorganisms you couldn't culture in a petri dish. But now we have metagenomics - direct genetic analysis of environmental samples. Either it fits on Earth's tree of life, or it doesn't.

But planetary protection got written into law in the 1960s, back when very little was actually known about DNA or exotic microbial metabolisms, and so we're stuck with it.
So NASA and most every biologist disagrees with you.
Yes there won't be a "mars plague" that makes people sick. But no scientist is concerned about a disease. They are concerned about some bacteria like thing that can survive on earth. That will displace earth life instead. Same basic idea of invasive species.

It seems you are unaware, but there is an awful lot of anaerobic life on earth, much of it obligately anaerobic. Lots of life has been shown to survive on the ISS. Earth life has been shown to be able to survive mars like conditions. Its not hard to imagine the reverse of that.

Not only does your argument ignore all science, its designed to frame planetary protection as a bad old thing which must be discarded to make way for the mars colonies that elon musk is going to build for you.

1) NASA is required to disagree with me, since planetary protection is written into the OST. That's law, not reality.

2) Mars anaerobic life displacing Earth life is impossible on energy grounds, as I posted above. Any metabolism that uses chemistry available on Mars won't be competitive in Earth's chemical environment.

3) A large number of obligate anaerobic species exist on Earth, yes. But Earth has an oxygen atmosphere and oxygenated oceans, so they are limited to environments where they can escape oxygen. These environments are either tiny pockets or totally inaccessible to returning spacecraft (e.g. the deep subsurface).

4) Certain life can survive for a while outside the ISS, yes. But tardigrades, microbes etc that  survive vacuum do so in a state of scambiosis (usually while dried - anhydrobiosis). They are not metabolizing, not really living. Life has to metabolize and reproduce to compete ecologically.

(There's an African fly larva that can survive being dipped in liquid nitrogen in its dried state, then revive when given water. But that doesn't mean it, or any life form, can metabolize/actively live at liquid nitrogen temperatures!)

5) I would believe the same thing if Elon Musk did not exist. It seems to be a result of the same energy logic that makes aerobic life utterly dominant on Earth. Aerobic lifeforms are capable of anaerobic metabolism (even our cells can use glycolysis) - but it is never the first choice, as it is horribly, horribly inefficient.

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