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Planetary Protection Standards for Icy Bodies in the Outer Solar System

Statement of Task

An ad-hoc committee will be organized under the auspices of the Space Studies Board to develop and recommend planetary protection standards for future spacecraft missions, including possible landers and subsurface probes, to the icy bodies in the outer solar system (asteroids, satellites, Kuiper Belt objects, and comets) in light of current scientific understanding and ongoing improvements in mission-enabling capabilities and technologies.
Specifically, the committee will consider the following subjects and make recommendations, as appropriate, in a report to NASA:

1. The possible factors that usefully could be included in a Coleman-Sagan formulation describing the probability that various types of missions might contaminate with Earth life any liquid water, either naturally occurring or induced by human activities, on or within specific target icy bodies or classes of objects;

2. The range of values that can be estimated for the above factors based on current knowledge, as well as an assessment of conservative values for other specific factors that might be provided to missions targeting individual bodies or classes of objects; and

3. Scientific investigations that could reduce the uncertainty in the above estimates and assessments, as well as technology developments that would facilitate implementation of planetary protection requirements and/or reduce the overall probability of contamination.

View the Report: Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar System Bodies

Committee Membership

Dr. Mitchell L. Sogin; (Chair)
Marine Biological Laboratory

Dr. Geoffrey Collins; (Vice Chair)
Wheaton College

Ms. Amy Baker
Technical Administrative Services

Dr. John A. Baross
University of Washington

Dr. Amy C. Barr
Southwest Research Institute

Dr. William V. Boynton
University of Arizona

Dr. Charles S. Cockell
Open University

Dr. Michael J. Daly
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Mr. Joseph R. Fragola
Valador, Inc.

Dr. Rosaly M. Lopes
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Kenneth H. Nealson
University of Southern California

Mr. Douglas S. Stetson
Space Science and Exploration Consulting Group

Dr. Mark H. Thiemens; NAS 
University of California, San Diego

Staff Officer
Mr. Joseph K. Alexander 
National Research Council