Planetary Protection rituals at the European Space Research and Technology Centre, Noordwijk, Netherlands. A video still from Extremophile by Jenna Sutela, 2017. Planetary Protection rituals at the European Space Research and Technology Centre, Noordwijk, Netherlands. A video still from Extremophile by Jenna Sutela, 2017.

Interstellar ascetics revere all life forms. They are the most considerate guests in the universe, putting the well-being of theoretical creatures before their own. The ascetics recognize the value of the invisible. They perform rigorous cleaning and decontamination rituals to do away with Earth’s bacteria and prevent human bioloads from entering other planets during space missions. Planetary Protection is necessary when we penetrate the surface of Mars with our probes. Love the glove. What the ascetics cannot see is that life is already all connected. The idea that microbes from Earth could make it in outer space inadvertently supports the possibility of life having come here from elsewhere at a previous epoch and survived the journey. Panspermia, literally seeds everywhere, is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the universe, distributed by space dust, meteoroids, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and spacecraft in the form of unintended contamination by extremophiles.

Jenna Sutela

Jenna Sutela is an artist working with words, sounds, and other living materials, exploring biological and computational systems. jennasutela.com | @jennaemilia