Safe methods for MSR
Gilbert Levin recommends this 10-step sequence for returning Martian samples to Earth.
  • Phase 1. Send robotic instruments to detect and analyze microbial life on Mars to the extent possible.
  • Phase 2. If living organisms are confirmed, place soil samples under various combinations of substrates, nutrients, and environments and monitor their activity until we know what they need.
  • Phase 3. Test Martian “bugs” for hazards to the extent possible.
  • Phase 4. If no hazards are detected, secure samples in capsules designed to provide the determined essentials and then send the samples to an Earth-orbiting laboratory, such as the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Phase 5. Have volunteer scientists aboard the ISS examine and extensively test the samples and organisms.
  • Phase 6. If the samples are dangerous, it may be necessary to sacrifice the space scientists.
  • Phase 7. If no hazard is discernible, determine if it is necessary to send the samples to Earth for further study.
  • Phase 8. If it is necessary, send the samples to Earth in secure containers per Phase 4 above.
  • Phase 9. Transfer the sample containers to secure laboratories for study.
  • Phase 10. Provide laboratories for outside investigators for further studies, rather than sending samples outside the secure laboratories.
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