Settle the question of life on Mars before conquering Red Planet

Fresh evidence for liquid water means
space agencies should focus on life-
detection missions on Mars before
establishing a human presence
EVIDENCE that water still flows on
Mars has raised hopes that the planet
may support life. But those hopes
mean different things to different
people.
Astrobiologists see the findings as
confirmation that Mars is the best
hope in our solar system to host Earth-
like life – so they want to keep it
pristine as they search. But advocates
of crewed space flight see water as a
boon to hopes of human exploration ,
a vital resource for a visit by
astronauts.
Missions to the surface of Mars must
abide by rules designed to avoid
contaminating “special regions” that
might sustain life. Anywhere with
permanent or temporary liquid water
falls into that definition – the very
places we want to check.
For the astrobiologists, sterilising
robots for exploration can in principle
reduce the contamination risk. But this
is very difficult, and a further barrier
remains: