Planetary Protection Knowledge Gaps for Future Mars Human Missions: Stepwise Progress in Identifying and Integrating Science and Technology Needs
Spry, J Andy
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NASA and COSPAR are engaged in a stepwise process to identify, prioritize and plan the R&TD needed for addressing planetary protection requirements for human missions beyond Earth orbit. The objective is to move incrementally from qualitative COSPAR PP Principles and Operating Guidelines towards development of quantitative PP requirements for human missions to habitable locations like Mars. This work has progressed via a series of workshops involving NASA, COSPAR, international agencies, the scientific/technical community, and commercial /private stakeholders. The process began with identification of knowledge gaps in three important areas (microbiology of crewed spacecraft; mitigation/contamination control technologies; and potential dissemination/survival of terrestrial microorganisms under martian conditions). While detailed PP requirements remain to be developed, opportunities for feed-forward testing are possible on crewed and robotic missions to locations having few or no PP constraints (e.g. ISS, Moon, Cislunar space, martian Moons, asteroids, Earth analogues, & simulations). This presentation will provide an update on three recent workshops (2015; 2016; 2018) that identified and prioritized over two dozen knowledge gaps needing R&TD related to planetary protection. The 2018 workshop focused particularly on future measurements, instruments and flight opportunities and also generated a roadmap to guide closure of knowledge gaps in areas of microbial and human health monitoring, technology/operations for contamination control, and natural transport of contamination. A follow-on meeting paid special attention to payload requirements for addressing knowledge gaps applicable to the natural transport of contamination on Mars.