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Juno Mission: Planetary Protection (video)

For all of its planetary missions, NASA has established a principle of planetary protection to avoid contaminating potentially habitable worlds with microbes from Earth. By destroying itself, Juno will eliminate any chance of crashing into one of Jupiter's moons and allowing microbial stowaways to find a new home. Microbes can lie dormant and survive in space without air, food, or water for years, becoming active again if conditions become more hospitable. At least one of Jupiter's moons, Europa — which might have a subsurface ocean of liquid water — may be a habitable environment. If we eventually find life elsewhere in the solar system, we want to be sure that it's indeed extraterrestrial.

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