This principle is referred to as preventing backward contamination. The genomic revolution has strengthen our ability to predict whether or not terrestrial microbes and putative extraterrestrial microbes are likely to remain viable when transferred from one planetary body to another.
Speaker biography | Lisa Pratt is a professor emerita in the IU College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and also serves as the planetary protection officer at NASA. Her research focuses on understanding life’s adaptations to extreme environments on Earth and on working with engineers to solve robotic challenges associated with the search for evidence of past or present life on Mars as well as the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Her biogeochemical research on microbial transformation of simple inorganic molecules has been funded for two decades by NASA and the National Science Foundation. From 2003 to 2008, Pratt served as a team director at the NASA Astrobiology Institute and, from 2013 to 2016, as chair of NASA's Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group. She has also been a member of the Return Sample Science Board for the Mars 2020 Rover mission, which is responsible for advanced planning related to the safe transportation of Martian samples to Earth for analysis. She holds a Ph.D. in geology from Princeton University.