Final Report of the COSPAR Meeting Series on Knowledge Gaps in Planetary Protection for Crewed Missions to Mars



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2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems


The international scientific community has, through a Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) meeting series, participated in a seven-year review of knowledge gaps in planetary protection for crewed missions to Mars. This meeting series first identified a prioritized list of knowledge gaps that, if addressed, would permit development of an implementable planetary protection policy for the initial crewed Mars mission. Next, a consideration of the available venues (ground, LEO, deep space, planetary surfaces) yielded a roadmap of potential future investigations needed to close the knowledge gaps. Finally, the meeting series evaluated topic-specific measurements that are essential to establishing the figures of merit needed for hardware engineering design requirements. The three main topic threads considered within the meeting series were: microbial and human health monitoring; natural transport of terrestrial biological contamination on Mars, and; technologies and operations for contamination control (of spacecraft systems). Participants at the meeting series included engineers, scientists, managers and various subject matter experts from space agencies, academic and research institutions, commercial companies and other government departments. This paper provides a detailed summary review of the findings of the meeting series, including descriptions of the basis for each of the figures of merit (where they were identified), and considerations of how planetary protection implementation and policy for crewed missions may progress from the current state of the art.


J Andy Spry,
Bette Siegel,
Elaine Seasly,
J Nick Benardini,
ICES506: Human Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit: Missions and Technologies
The 52nd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2023 through 20 July 2023.


COSPAR, Crewed Missions, Moon to Mars, Mars, Planetary Protection