Recent spacecraft and robotic probes to Mars have yielded data that
are changing our understanding significantly about the possibility
of existing or past life on that planet. Coupled with advances in
biology and life-detection techniques, these developments place
increasing importance on the need to protect Mars from
contamination by Earth-borne organisms. To help with this effort,
NASA requested that the NRC examine existing planetary protection
measures for Mars and recommend changes and further research to
improve such measures. This report discusses policies,
requirements, and techniques to protect Mars from organisms
originating on Earth that could interfere with scientific
investigations. It provides recommendations on cleanliness and
biological burden levels of Mars-bound spacecraft, methods to reach
those levels, and research to reduce uncertainties in preventing
forward contamination of Mars.
National Academies Press
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