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Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions (2009)

Chapter: Appendix B: Committee and Staff Biographical Information

« Previous: Appendix A: Letter of Request from NASA
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Committee and Staff Biographical Information." National Research Council. 2009. Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12576.
Page 78
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Committee and Staff Biographical Information." National Research Council. 2009. Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12576.
Page 79
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Committee and Staff Biographical Information." National Research Council. 2009. Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12576.
Page 80

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B Committee and Staff Biographical Information JACK D. FARMER, Chair, is a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University (ASU). His research interests include microbial bio-sedimentology and the evolution of Earth’s early biosphere. He is particularly interested in understanding the factors that control biosignature preservation and how that knowl- edge can be translated into strategies for the search for evidence of past life on Mars. Prior to joining the faculty at ASU, Dr. Farmer was a research scientist in the Exobiology Branch of NASA’s Ames Research Center. He was instrumental in the selection of the landing sites for Mars Pathfinder and the Mars Exploration Rovers. Dr. Farmer served on the science definition team for the Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. He has chaired the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Mars Focus Group and the community-based Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group. Dr. Farmer is a Sequoyah Fellow of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. He is a past member of NASA’s Space Sciences Advisory Committee and has served on several National Research Council (NRC) boards and committees including the Space Studies Board, the Committee to Review the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the Committee for the Review of NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Plan, and the Committee on an Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs. JAMES F. BELL III is an associate professor in the Astronomy Department at Cornell University. His research interests focus on the geology, geochemistry, and mineralogy of planets, asteroids, and comets using data obtained from telescopes and spacecraft missions. He is particularly interested in the use of optical and infrared techniques to study the surface mineralogy and climatic variations of Mars. Prior to joining the faculty at Cornell in 1995, he was an NRC postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Dr. Bell is currently the lead scientist for the Pancam color imaging system on the Mars Exploration Rovers. He is also a member of the science teams for Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Science Laboratory rover missions. KATHLEEN C. BENISON is an associate professor in the Department of Geology at Central Michigan University. Her research covers the fields of sedimentary geology and geochemistry. She is also involved with deciphering past conditions on Earth’s surface, including depositional environments, paleoclimate, and water chemistry. Her other research covers the physical, chemical, and biological processes of modern sediments that can be compared with ancient sediments. 78

APPENDIX B 79 WILLIAM V. BOYNTON is a professor at the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. Dr. Boynton’s research interests include mineralogic and trace element studies of meteorites and impact events, internal stratigraphy and provenance of Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary sediments, remote-sensing via gamma-ray spectrometry, instrumentation for chemical analysis of planetary surfaces, and Mars surface chemistry. He has been extensively involved in Mars missions since 1984. His gamma ray spectrometer first flew on the ill-fated Mars Observer spacecraft in the early 1990s before being successfully deployed by Mars Odyssey in 2002. He is the principal investigator of the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analysis instrument, which studied the chemical proper- ties of martian surface materials on the Mars Phoenix spacecraft. Dr. Boynton served on the NRC Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration and the Committee on the Assessment of Solar System Exploration. SHERRY L. CADY is an associate professor at the Center for Life in Extreme Environments in the Department of Geology at Portland State University. She studies microbial behavior and biosignature preservation in extreme ecosystems to better detect life in the geological record. Specifically, she uses a variety of imaging, structural, and chemical analytical methods and focuses on the biochemical interactions between microorganisms and their environment. Her efforts to improve the ability to detect evidence of life in the geological record apply directly to paleobiological studies of life on Earth and astrobiological studies on other planets. Dr. Cady is the editor of the journal Astrobiology. She served as an NRC research associate at NASA Ames Research Center (1994-1996), and as principal investigator and research scientist at the SETI Institute (1996-1998). Dr. Cady served on the NRC Committee to Review of the Next Decadal Mars Architecture. F. GRANT FERRIS is a professor in the Department of Geology at the University of Toronto and the founding director of the university’s Microbial Geochemistry Laboratory. Dr. Ferris’ research focuses on field studies of mineral precipitation by bacteria in terrestrial hot springs and deep-sea hydrothermal vents and experimental laboratory work on the surface chemistry of bacterial cells. He serves as the chair of the executive board of the International Symposia on Environmental Biogeochemistry and is a founding member of the Canadian Space Agency Astrobiology Working Group and a member of the InterRidge Biogeochemistry Working Group. He has served as an associate editor for the Geomicrobiology Journal, Applied Geochemistry, and Geobiology. DUNCAN MacPHERSON, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) fellow, serves in a variety of roles, including chief engineer for spacecraft projects—most recently, the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (2003-2005). Prior to coming to JPL in 2000, Mr. MacPherson worked as an independent contractor providing senior-level consulting services addressing technical problems relating to systems engineering or multiple engineering disciplines. In this capacity Mr. MacPherson served on project-level review boards for numerous spacecraft, including Galileo and Cassini. From 1965 to 1989, Mr. MacPherson held a variety of senior technical positions at Hughes Aircraft Company, including chief engineer for the Galileo Probe Project and the Japanese Geostationary Meteorological Satellite. He was also responsible for systems engineering and mission analyses for classified and unclassified programs and proposals. MARGARET S. RACE is a scientist with the SETI Institute. Her research focuses on planetary protection and ethical considerations of probes seeking to detect life as well as the implications of the possible discovery of life beyond Earth. She works closely with NASA in studying scientific, policy, and public issues associated with solar system exploration. She has served on three major national studies involving planetary protection and recently completed work on several NASA projects related to Mars exploration—one that developed scientific protocols for handling, quarantining, and testing martian samples, and one that analyzed the technical and scientific issues associated with human missions to Mars. She served as an organizer and editor of a series of international work- shops on containment and testing protocols for Mars sample return missions and participated in several recent studies of planetary protection for human missions to Mars. Dr. Race has served on several NRC committees, including the Committee on Principles of Environmental and Scientific Stewardship for the Exploration Study of Subglacial Lake Environments, the Committee on Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars, and the Task Group on Issues in Sample Return.

80 ASSESSMENT OF PLANETARY PROTECTION REQUIREMENTS FOR MARS SAMPLE RETURN MISSIONS MARK H. THIEMENS is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and dean of the Division of Physical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He also directs UCSD’s Center for Environmental Research and Training. Dr. Thiemens is best known for his discovery of the mass-independent isotope effect, which led to an improved understanding of Earth’s atmospheric composition and evolution. In 1998, he received the Ernest O. Lawrence Medal for this discovery. He has developed new insights into atmosphere-surface interaction on Earth and Mars and has stimulated a new approach to theories of isotopic reaction mechanisms. Work in Dr. Thiemens’ laboratory has concentrated on measurements of anomalous isotope variations in martian meteorites and in the oldest-known rocks on Earth. Dr. Thiemens is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and serves on the editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. MEENAKSHI WADHWA is the director of the Arizona State Center for Meteorite Studies. Her research interests focus on deciphering the origin and evolution of the solar system and planetary bodies through the use of geo- chemical and isotopic techniques. She uses high-precision mass spectrometric techniques to investigate a wide range of solar system materials. These include meteorites of martian and asteroidal origin, Moon rocks (from the Apollo missions and lunar meteorites), and other samples returned by spacecraft missions such as Genesis and Stardust. Dr. Wadhwa served on the NRC Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life and the Committee on an Astrobiology Strategy for the Exploration of Mars. Staff DAVID H. SMITH joined the staff of the Space Studies Board in 1991. He is the senior staff officer and study director for a variety of NRC activities, including the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life and the ongoing planetary sciences decadal survey. He also organizes the SSB’s summer intern program and supervises most, if not all, of the interns. He received a B.Sc. in mathematical physics from the University of Liverpool in 1976 and a D.Phil. in theoretical astrophysics from Sussex University in 1981. Following a postdoctoral fellow- ship at Queen Mary College, University of London (1980-1982) he held the position of associate editor and, later, technical editor of Sky and Telescope. Immediately prior to joining the staff of the Space Studies Board, Dr. Smith was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1990-1991). CATHERINE A. GRUBER is an editor with the Space Studies Board. She joined SSB as a senior program assis- tant in 1995. Ms. Gruber first came to the NRC in 1988. She was a research assistant (chemist) in the National Institute of Mental Health’s Laboratory of Cell Biology for 2 years. She has a B.A. in natural science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. RODNEY N. HOWARD joined the Space Studies Board as a senior project assistant in 2002. Before he joined SSB, most of his vocational life was spent in the health professionas a pharmacy technologist at Doctor’s Hos- pital in Lanham, Maryland, and as an interim center administrator at the Concentra Medical Center in Jessup, Maryland. During that time, he participated in a number of Quality Circle Initiatives that were designed to improve relations between management and staff. Mr. Howard obtained his B.A. in communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 1983. KAYLEIGH BOHEMIER, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern, attends Smith College, where she majors in English and minors in astronomy. While at school, she works with the Astronomy Department as a teaching assis- tant for introductory laboratory classes. This semester, she is studying abroad at Royal Holloway University of London. Ms. Bohemier discovered her interest in space policy when she read Venus in Transit, a work that exposed her to the extensive political drive behind astronomical research and development, shortly after a grassroots work experience. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in science and technology studies or science policy.

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NASA maintains a planetary protection policy to avoid the forward biological contamination of other worlds by terrestrial organisms, and back biological contamination of Earth from the return of extraterrestrial materials by spaceflight missions. Forward-contamination issues related to Mars missions were addressed in a 2006 National Research Council (NRC) book, Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars. However, it has been more than 10 years since back-contamination issues were last examined.

Driven by a renewed interest in Mars sample return missions, this book reviews, updates, and replaces the planetary protection conclusions and recommendations contained in the NRC's 1997 report Mars Sample Return: Issues and Recommendations. The specific issues addressed in this book include the following:

  • The potential for living entities to be included in samples returned from Mars;
  • Scientific investigations that should be conducted to reduce uncertainty in the above assessment;
  • The potential for large-scale effects on Earth's environment by any returned entity released to the environment;
  • Criteria for intentional sample release, taking note of current and anticipated regulatory frameworks; and
  • The status of technological measures that could be taken on a mission to prevent the inadvertent release of a returned sample into Earth's biosphere.
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