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Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes (2018)

Chapter: Appendix D: NASA's Planetary Protection Research Program

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: NASA's Planetary Protection Research Program." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25172.
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Page 108
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: NASA's Planetary Protection Research Program." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25172.
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Page 109
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: NASA's Planetary Protection Research Program." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25172.
×
Page 110
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: NASA's Planetary Protection Research Program." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25172.
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Page 111

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D NASA’s Planetary Protection Research Program NASA’s annual Research Opportunities in Earth and Planetary Sciences (ROSES) solicitation for research proposals describes the scope of the Planetary Protection Research program as follows:1 Planetary protection involves preventing biological contamination on both outbound and sample return missions to other planetary bodies. Numerous areas of research in astrobiology/exobiology are improving our understanding of the potential for survival of Earth microbes in extraterrestrial environments, relevant to preventing contamination of other bodies by organisms carried on spacecraft. Research is required to improve NASA’s understanding of the potential for both forward and backward contamination, how to minimize it, and to set standards in these areas for spacecraft preparation and operating procedures. Improvements in technologies and methods for evaluating the potential for life in returned samples are also of interest. Many of these research areas derive directly from recent National Research Council (NRC) recommendations on planetary protection for solar system exploration missions (see http://planetaryprotection.nasa.gov/documents/ for online reports and a list of publications). As a complement to the Exobiology program (see program element C.5), the Planetary Protection Research (PPR) program solicits research in the following areas: • Characterize the limits of life in laboratory simulations of planetary environments or in appropriate Earth analogs. Of particular interest are studies on the potential and dynamics of organism survival and reproduction in conditions present on the surface or subsurface of Mars (e.g., gullies and ice-rich environments), or on Europa and other icy satellites—potentially in the presence of a heat source brought from Earth. • Model planetary environmental conditions and transport processes that could permit mobilization of spacecraft- associated contaminants to locations in which Earth organisms might thrive, for example Mars Special Regions or the subsurface of icy bodies, such as Europa and other outer planet satellites. • Develop or adapt modern molecular analytical methods to rapidly detect, classify, and/or enumerate the widest possible spectrum of Earth microbes carried by spacecraft (on surfaces and/or in bulk materials, especially at low densities) before, during, and after assembly and launch processing. Of particular interest are methods capable of identifying microbes with high potential for surviving spacecraft flight or planetary environmental conditions (e.g., anaerobes, psychrophiles, radiation-resistant organisms). 1  NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System, Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 2018, Solicitation NNH18ZDA001N-PPR, “Planetary Protection Research,” released February 14, 2018, https://nspires.nasaprs.com/exter- nal/solicitations/summary!init.do?solId={3C61CFE1-591A-1683-ED8A-047843D6F167}&path=open, Appendix C.15. 108

APPENDIX D 109 • Identify and provide proof-of-concept on new or improved methods, technologies, and procedures for spacecraft sterilization that are compatible with spacecraft materials and assemblies. Projects funded via this program in the period 2005-2014 are shown in Table D.1. TABLE D.1  Projects Funded via NASA’s Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) Planetary Protection Research Program During the Period 2005-2014 PPO PPO Total Research Funding* Funding* (dollars ROSES Proposals Proposals (dollars in in Year Received Funded thousands) thousands) Principal Investigator Title of Proposal 2005 Unknown 1 John Moore, Colorado School of Development of self-sustaining, high Mines temperature synthesis combustion for contingency sterilization of a sample return mission 2006 22 4 $910 $2000 William Hug, Photon Systems, Inc. Deep ultraviolet instrument for instant bioload classification Adrian Ponce, Jet Propulsion Evaluating the probability of growth Laboratory for Earth microorganisms in special regions on Mars Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Jet Microbial characterization of the Propulsion Laboratory Phoenix spacecraft and its payload facility Jaroslava Wilcox, Jet Propulsion Qualification of low-energy e-beam Laboratory irradiation for sterilization of s/c surfaces 2007 13 6 $790 $2000 Mark Anderson, Jet Propulsion Spore detection and sterilization Laboratory using meta-stable helium William Hug, Photon Systems, Inc. Non-contact spacecraft surface bioload assay sensor Christopher McKay, NASA Ames Raman ultraviolet fluorescence Research Center for planetary protection bioburden monitoring Lisa Monaco, NASA Marshall Development of a microarray-based Space Flight Center/Jacobs instrument for detection of Earth Sverdrup microbes Andrew Schuerger, University of Biotoxicity of Mars soils: Florida Compatibility of terrestrial microorganisms to simulated conditions of special regions on Mars J. Anthony Spry, Jet Propulsion Molecular methods for Laboratory characterization of embedded bioburden continued

110 REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF PLANETARY PROTECTION POLICY DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES TABLE D.1  Continued PPO PPO Total Research Funding* Funding* (dollars ROSES Proposals Proposals (dollars in in Year Received Funded thousands) thousands) Principal Investigator Title of Proposal 2008 5 2 $1000 $2500 Richard Greenberg, University of Permeability and transport through Arizona Europa’s icy crust David Summers, NASA Ames Microbial contamination detection at Research Center very low levels by 125I radiolabeling 2009 Unknown 0 $1300 $2500 2010 4 1 $1200 $2700 Shirley Chung, Jet Propulsion Cleaning to sterility using CO2 Laboratory composite spray 2011 19 5 $1200 $2600 Fei Chen, Jet Propulsion Laser-induced plasma shockwave Laboratory cleaning for planetary protection Patrick Hogue, Johns Hopkins Advanced microbial census and University sterilization research for planetary protection Andrew Schuerger, University of Metabolism, growth, and genomic Florida responses of Serratia liquefaciens under simulated martian conditions Parag Vaishampayan, Jet Propulsion Metagenomics approach to predict Laboratory functional capabilities of microbes in clean room facilities Dale Winebrenner, University of Ultraviolet susceptibilities of Washington microbes in water ice to address forward contamination on Mars and other icy worlds 2012 21 1 $1400 $2600 Eric Suh, California Institute of Assessment of the effects of vapor Technology phase hydrogen peroxide treatments on future spacecraft electronics materials 2013 Not 0 $1600 $2500 solicited 2014 19 4 and 3 $1700 $2400 Daniel Austin Microorganism survivability in high partially velocity impacts funded Fei Chen, Brigham Young Life at low water activity with salts University relevant to Mars and icy satellites Vincent Chevrier, University of Potential growth and survival of Arkansas sulfate reducing bacteria on the martian surface Wayne Schubert, Jet Propulsion Dry heat inactivation of embedded Laboratory spores Adam Abate, University of PCR-activated cell sorting-based California, San Francisco molecular detection of spores and other microbial communities (partial funding)

APPENDIX D 111 TABLE D.1  Continued PPO PPO Total Research Funding* Funding* (dollars ROSES Proposals Proposals (dollars in in Year Received Funded thousands) thousands) Principal Investigator Title of Proposal Stephanie Smith, University of Evaluating microbial hardiness and Idaho archiving of isolates from NASA’s next generation lander (partial funding) Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Jet Germination-induced molecular Propulsion Laboratory detection of spores and other heat- tolerant microbial communities (partial funding) 2015 Unknown 0 $1700 $25040 2016 Not 0 Unknown Unknown solicited 2017 Unknown Not yet Unknown Unknown selected NOTE: All information, except those in columns indicated by *, was compiled from the relevant ROSES databases “NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System” (https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/index.do). Items in columns with an * were derived from information supplied to the committee by NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer (Catharine Conley, “Day-to-day Operations of the Plan- etary Protection Office: Past, Present, and Future,” presentation, May 23, 2017, Slide 26, http://sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/ssbsite/ documents/webpage/ssb_180763.pdf). PPO, planetary protection officer.

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Protecting Earth’s environment and other solar system bodies from harmful contamination has been an important principle throughout the history of space exploration. For decades, the scientific, political, and economic conditions of space exploration converged in ways that contributed to effective development and implementation of planetary protection policies at national and international levels. However, the future of space exploration faces serious challenges to the development and implementation of planetary protection policy. The most disruptive changes are associated with (1) sample return from, and human missions to, Mars; and (2) missions to those bodies in the outer solar system possessing water oceans beneath their icy surfaces.

Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes addresses the implications of changes in the complexion of solar system exploration as they apply to the process of developing planetary protection policy. Specifically, this report examines the history of planetary protection policy, assesses the current policy development process, and recommends actions to improve the policy development process in the future.

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