In the article “Protecting the planet” (SN: 11/3/12, p. 32), the sidebar “Keeping Mars clean” gives the impression that Curiosity had not been contaminated, while the opposite is true. Apparently the sterilized craft was opened up and microbial contamination likely occurred. Curiosity’s drill bits may be contaminated with Earth microbes. So now NASA is in the catch-22 position that if they do find water they cannot use the drill. The entire gist of the article is to give an erroneous impression that Curiosity was clean, when in fact Catharine Conley has been quoted saying that she knew Curiosity was contaminated.
Dennis Kuzara, Punta Gorda, Fla.
A box of sterilized drill bits meant for use on Mars was opened on Earth so one could be installed on the rover. While this handling was less than optimal, Conley says, after several revie