Now that NASA has discovered water on Mars it is actually forbidden to land its craft and astronauts anywhere near it. Which rather defeats the object. What if you have a thirsty crew in search of life as we know it? Or in search of life as we don't?
Surely the rules will be bent enough to ensure that NASA boots may boldly go - yes go boldly - where other boots have already gone before; right on the head of a little green Martian.
The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, was drafted in the late 1960s and signed by those nations interested in the preservation of celestial bodies via non-contamination. The Treaty declares:
"States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies."
So what is 'harmful' in this context that wasn't in any other. Think Mars rovers that have already driven across the not-so arid soil? Thereby ensuring that if those waters contain life 'as we know it' an interplanetary war of words may have already begun back on Planet Earth.
To go boldly indeed.