NASA partners SETI Institute on planetary protection

James Marshall
July 13, 2020

Mars, on the other hand, is a little bit more complicated. As a result, implementing effective and consistent planetary protection standards is more important than ever.

Similarly, no biologically contaminated material should be capable of being brought back to Earth from Mars or any other cosmic body that may become a source of rocks and other material for Earth scientists to study. At the same time, the agency explores the Solar System. Otherwise, human research would be too tough to pull off. For starters, if we're looking for microbial life on a planet like Mars, we don't want to accidentally "discover" something that humans brought with them.

The directives also do not have an affect on intercontinental planetary protection guidelines maintained by the Committee on Place Exploration (COSPAR). Virtually everything we send into space has germs on it. Spacecraft often undergo strict cleaning procedures to get rid of these tiny organisms, depending on where they're headed in the Solar System. For some, that means getting baked at high temperatures to kill off microbes and to make the vehicles as immaculate as possible.

But now NASA is specially focused on once again sending people into deep space. And whenever people go into space, we carry tons of bacteria with us, no matter how much we clean.

The two directives, announced by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine through a "Moon Dialogs" webinar, are aspect of an hard work by NASA to modernize pointers that are many years old and which the company thinks could hinder its prolonged-phrase human exploration ideas.

Today, NASA released two new "interim directives" that lay out potential changes to the guidelines for exploring the Moon and Mars.

Bridenstine said the regulations were developed to protect the interests of the scientific, commercial, and human communities. "Because that's just not possible". And whenever there's water somewhere in the Solar System, scientists are always cautious about the possibility of it sustaining some kind of life.

Planetary protection preserves environments, as well as the science, ensuring verifiable scientific exploration for extraterrestrial life.

"As the interest in exploratory missions broadens every day, it is important that needed Planetary Protection information, approaches and training are available to both government and commercial stakeholders", said Amy Baker, SETI Institute project lead.

The second directive would update the Mars rules so that human missions will be allowed in the future. Mars is a relatively restricted world right now. It's a Category IV body for landers, which means there's a big interest in finding life there and a significant risk of contamination. Between its tips was reclassifying significantly of the moon from Group 2 to Classification 1, as well as for NASA to develop planetary defense pointers for foreseeable future Mars missions. Yet the interim order calls for the agency to come up with new recommendations based on what we keep learning about Mars from future missions such as the launch of this summer's Perseverance rover. "Certain pieces of the moon, from a scientific viewpoint, want to be protected extra than other pieces of the moon from ahead biological contamination".

That being said, neither of the two NIDs is set in stone. With its Artemis program, NASA is aiming to return astronauts to the lunar surface by the year 2024. In May, NASA announced the creation of the Artemis Accords, a set of global standards for exploring the Moon that it hopes other countries will follow.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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