Will Mars missions make humans sick? Here's what we know.

While it's unclear if microbes are lurking on Mars, studies of earthly bacteria show that space can make some germs especially unpleasant.

No one wants to risk a contagion in space. Returning home can be tricky, medical supplies are limited, crews cannot treat every complication that might arise, and a single infected astronaut could jeopardize an entire mission.

That’s especially true for any future human missions to Mars, in which an astronaut with the sniffles would be at least 33 million miles from the nearest commercial pharmacy. And while astronauts headed into space already take a ton of precautions to reduce the risk of illness, what happens if we get to the red planet and find a whole new source of infections?

No one knows whether Mars harbors microbial life today. But if the planet is inhabited by more than mere robots,

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