Was streptococcus actually found in Surveyor 3 after spending 2 and a half years on the Moon or is that just a rumor?
Yes, this microbe was found on the Surveyor 3 camera that was retrieved and returned to Earth by the Apollo 12 astronauts. For many years it was thought that these microbes had survived their long exposure on the lunar surface. More recently, however, scientific opinion has shifted, and now we think these were probably contaminants introduced when the camera was returned to Earth. It is very difficult to control such contamination, which is a cautionary tale for future return of samples from Mars. We don’t want to identify life in such a sample and then be unsure if the life is from Mars or from the Earth.
NLSI Interim Director
February 14, 2008