It won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it will be a gold rush when we meet aliens. Can we make sure it’s ethical?

It won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it will be a gold rush when we meet aliens. Can we make sure it’s ethical?

is a science writer. This woman is the Latin America correspondent for Science, along with her work has also starred in Wired and Slate. She lives in Mexico City.

Aeon for Friends

It wasn’t the Martians’ fault their planet died. If they existed – once – Martians were likely microbes, residing in a world similar to our personal, warmed by an environment and crisscrossed by waterways. But Mars began to lose that atmosphere, perhaps because its gravity wasn’t strong enough to hold into it after an asteroid impact, or perhaps it was gradually blown away by solar winds. The main cause is still mysterious, however the ending is clear: Mars’s liquid water dried out or froze into ice caps, leaving life without its most precious resource. Any Martians will have been victims of a planet-wide disaster that is natural could neither foresee nor prevent.

For Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, the moral implications are unmistakeable: we should help our neighbours. Earthlings may possibly not have had the opportunity to intervene when Martians were dying en masse (we had been just microbes ourselves), however now, billions of years later, we could make it as much as them. We’ve already figured out a powerful method to warm up a planet: pump greenhouse gases into its atmosphere. Continue reading “It won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it will be a gold rush when we meet aliens. Can we make sure it’s ethical?”