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Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars

Project Scope

This study examineed the results of recent research on extremophiles on
Earth and of recent space missions to Mars and will provide a revision of the
1992 guidelines on preventing the forward contamination of Mars.

The study committee will address the following tasks: 1) assess and recommend
levels of cleanliness and bioload reduction required to prevent the forward
contamination of Mars by future spacecraft missions (orbiters, atmospheric
missions, landers, penetrators, and drills), given current understanding of the
martian environment and of terrestrial microorganisms in extreme environments.
The committee's recommendations should take into account the full spectrum of
environments on, above, and under present-day Mars, and the various methods
that spaceflight missions may use to access them; 2) review methods used to
achieve and measure the appropriate level of cleanliness and bioload reduction
for Mars spacecraft and recommend alternatives in light of recent advancements
in science and technology; and 3) identify scientific investigations that
should be accomplished to reduce the uncertainty in the above assessments.

This project was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Click here to read the full report.

Committee Membership:

Dr. Christopher F. Chyba - (Chair)
Princeton University
Dr. David A. Paige
University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Stephen Clifford
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Dr. Ann Pearson
Harvard University
Mr. Alan Delamere
Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation
Dr. John C. Priscu
Montana State University
Dr. Martin S. Favero
Johnson & Johnson
Dr. Margaret S. Race
SETI Institute
Mr. Eric J. Mathur
Diversa Corporation
Dr. Mitchell Sogin
Marine Biological Laboratory
Mr. John C. Niehoff
Science Applications International Corporation
Dr. Cristina Takacs-Vesbach
The University of New Mexico
Dr. Gian Gabriele Ori
Universita d'Annunzio


Pam Whitney, Study Director
Space Studies Board