Advanced Planetary Protection Technologies for the Proposed Future Mission Set
Spry, J. Andy
Conley, Catharine A.
Race, Margaret S.
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The discipline of protecting solar system objects from harmful contamination resulting from the activities of interplanetary spacecraft, and of similarly protecting the Earth from uncontrolled release of a putative extra-terrestrial organism from returned extra-terrestrial samples, is called planetary protection. Planetary protection requirements for robotic exploration of Mars have been refined over time as more became understood about the nature of the Martian environment as a potential habitat. Likewise, increased understanding of the limits of life on Earth continues to inform planetary protection policy. In planning for future human exploration of Mars, it is recognized that planetary protection controls for human missions will often be supportive of other important mission needs, such as maximizing closed-loop and recycling capabilities to minimize mass required, minimizing exposure of humans to planetary materials for multiple health reasons, and minimizing contamination of planetary samples and environments during exploration and science activities. In this paper, we outline the progress and plans of a current IAA Study Group that is engaging robotic and human mission developers and scientists in exploring detailed technical, engineering and operational approaches by which planetary protection objectives can be accomplished for human missions. This will be considered through the prism of the planetary protection aspects of the NASA Mars Destination Operations Team, and assessment of current technological capabilities and knowledge gaps.