“A STANFORD professor is warning that new rock samples from Mars could bring new viruses to Earth.”
“In my opinion, and that of the science community, the chance that rocks from Mars that are millions of years old will contain an active life form that could infect Earth is extremely low. But, the samples returned by MSR will be quarantined and treated as though they are the Ebola virus until proven safe.”
Keith’s note: Scott Hubbard is certainly free to speak his mind – especially if he is on a panel that writes a NASA advisory report. But he really should not be at the forefront of discussing the planetary protection topic in public. The use of the word “Ebola” in the same sentence with NASA’s Mars sample return plans is just ill-advised arm waving and results in follow-on articles that pick up on the use of the word “Ebola”. Oh yea and we’re IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, Scott. Talk about the worst time to link something NASA wants to do with a lethal infectious disease.
And guess what, Scott – when you make comparisons like this you inevitably get headlines in follow-on articles and quotes that hype the “Ebola” mention that millions of people will read as a direct result. Not the smartest thing to say right now – or at any other time. Look at the quick Google news search for “Scott Hubbard Ebola” (larger image). I’m sure NASA loves headlines like this from the Sun: “MARS ATTACKS Stanford professor warns Mars rock samples ‘could bring alien viruses to Earth’ and they ‘must be treated like Ebola'”.
But wait, there’s more: download the report that Scott Hubbard is referring to. Link here: “Assessment of the Report of NASA’s Planetary Protection Independent Review Board“. Do a simple word search for “Ebola”. Guess what: the report never mentions “Ebola”. The report makes no mention of the words “disease”, “pandemic”, “virus”, or “Coronavirus” either. Then why is Hubbard freelancing and making a comparison to a lethal pathogen – a topic that the report itself does not even mention?