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Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars
FIGURE 9.1 Proposed framework for a transition from the current approach to a new approach to Mars planetary protection (PP), along with the programmatic support and global policy considerations required to make the transition.
bioburden of all materials in Mars flight systems, as well as in the facilities within which the systems are assembled, tested, and ultimately launched—is necessary to assess which species are capable of surviving interplanetary transit and then growing in the Mars environment. Knowing which species are dead, or will die en route to Mars, is equally important. (Committee recommendations 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10 pertain to objective 1.)
Objective 2: Definition and Development of Revised Requirements for Reduction of Bioburden
Characterization of the bioburden on spacecraft (objective 1) and the ability to target those microbial populations of greatest concern for contaminating Mars enable objective 2, review and revision of existing bioburden reduction standards in NASA’s requirements documents. Revised requirements will set limits on microbes based on understanding of the likelihood that these populations will either contaminate the Mars environment through growth or will confound life-detection measurements by their mere existence (dead or alive) on the spacecraft or in contact with the Mars environment. (Committee recommendations 1, 2, 8, 10, and 11 pertain to objective 2.)