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Whitepaper #348 submitted to the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032. Topics: life and prebiotic organics; Mercury and/or the Moon; planetary protection
Spacecraft sent to the Moon carry microbial contaminants. Do any still survive? Modeling predicts some may, in spacecraft debris at the Lunar South Pole. We propose recovering debris to assay for biosignatures and viable microbes, in a mission that will provide valuable data for astrobiology, planetary protection, and space biology.