In 2005, the Planetary Protection Office of NASA asked the NRC to advise the Office on planetary protection concerns about missions to and from Venus. In particular, the NRC was asked to assess whether the surface and atmospheric environments of Venus might be capable of supporting microbial contamination from Earth, and, if so, to recommend prevention measures for future missions; to recommend planetary protection measures associated with return of samples from Venus to Earth; and to identify specific scientific investigations that may be needed to reduce any uncertainty in those assessments. This letter report provides a review of scientific considerations and past NRC studies on the issue; brief assessments of the key topics affecting the potential for forward and back contamination; a review of planetary protection considerations; and conclusions and recommendations.
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