Incorporation of Planetary Protection Knowledge Gaps into Agency Capability Development Planning
Spry, J Andy
Since its start in 2016, the COSPAR workshop series on "Planetary protection requirements for human extraterrestrial missions" has generated and refined a set of planetary protection (PP) knowledge gaps (KGs) which, if addressed, would represent one path to a successful PP implementation strategy for the first crewed Mars mission. The KGs fall into three topic areas: microbial and human health monitoring (in habitat and in crew); microbial contamination control and mitigation in spacecraft systems, and; transport and survival of terrestrial life at Mars. The 2018 workshop led to a timeline that for the first time described a path to a tractable end-to-end PP solution for a crewed mission to Mars, and since that time NASA and ESA have been incorporating elements of the KG set into forward plans for capability developments in human spaceflight architecture. While the microbial and human health monitoring and transport and survival of terrestrial life at Mars KGs focus primarily on knowledge needed to inform the definition of usable �top down� requirements for spacecraft hardware providers, the microbial contamination control and mitigation in spacecraft systems KGs are a �bottom up� engineering-driven requirement set based on technical performance of needed hardware systems. The integration of all three topic areas into capability-development planning by space agencies offers the promise that the KGs will be addressed in a timeframe aligned with opportunities for new data acquisition by ISS and Gateway experiments, robotic science missions and ground analog studies on the one hand, and the launch of the first crewed Mars missions on the other. This paper will provide an update on the current status.