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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

Planetary Protection Classification
of Sample Return Missions from
the Martian Moons

Committee on Planetary Protection Requirements for
Sample Return Missions from Martian Moons

Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

and

European Space Sciences Committee
European Science Foundation
Strasbourg, France

A Consensus Study Report of

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This study is based on work supported by Contract NNH17CB02B between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and work supported by Contract 4000118481 between the European Science Foundation and the European Space Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-48859-4
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-48859-1
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the European Science Foundation. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25357.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

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Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

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Based in Strasbourg, France, the European Science Foundation (ESF) was established in 1974 as an independent, nongovernmental, nonprofit organization to help its Member Organizations collaborate internationally on research programs. ESF helps meet this objective by providing administrative, management, and coordination services to independent scientific boards/committees and collaborative scientific projects, while harnessing in-depth knowledge of the European landscape and associated research communities.

Currently, ESF’s focus lies in activities designed to support and sustain the funding and conduct of scientific research across Europe. This is a natural evolution of its traditional role, since the aim remains to promote scientific developments through collaborative actions, but with the emphasis shifting to helping research funding organizations carry out their decision-making processes.

ESF’s aim is to serve and strengthen science by exploiting its assets to build and develop an organization that is self-financing and independent, but at the same time nonprofit and customer-service oriented. To this end it will be working alongside leading science funding institutions as well as national funding bodies.

The European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) is an Expert Board of the ESF. The ESSC aims to underpin the role of space sciences and technology as pillars of the European space venture, support European visibility and enhance the position of Europe in global space initiatives, and assess the status and perspectives of European space activities on a regular basis.

Following the creation of the “Provisional Space Science Board for Europe” under the auspices of the UK Royal Society in 1974, the ESSC turned into a Standing Committee of the newly created ESF in 1975. The ESSC had grown out of the need for a collaborative effort that would ensure that European space scientists made their voices heard on the other side of the Atlantic, in an era when successive Apollo and space science missions had thrust the idea of space exploration into the collective conscious for the first time.

The ESSC’s mission is to provide an independent voice on European space research and policy, and it remains just as relevant today as it acts as an interface with the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission, national space agencies, and ESF Member Organizations on space-related aspects.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

COMMITTEE ON PLANETARY PROTECTION REQUIREMENTS FOR SAMPLE RETURN MISSIONS FROM MARTIAN MOONS

DAVID PEARCE, Northumbria University, United Kingdom, Chair

ANDRÉ ANTUNES, Edge Hill University, United Kingdom

ATHENA COUSTENIS, LESIA-Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France

MICHAEL J. DALY, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States

ABIGAIL A. FRAEMAN, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, United States

ANSGAR GRESHAKE, Museum für Naturkunde, Germany

GUY LIBOUREL, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, France

AKIKO NAKAMURA, Kobe University, Japan

FRANÇOIS POULET, Institute of Space Astrophysics, France

ROBIN PUTZAR, Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Germany

KALIAT T. RAMESH, Johns Hopkins University, United States

NORMAN H. SLEEP,1 Stanford University, United States

SHINO SUZUKI, Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology, Japan

MEGAN BRUCK SYAL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, United States

ERIN L. WALTON, MacEwan University, Canada

Staff

EMMANOUIL DETSIS, Science Officer, European Science Foundation

DAVID H. SMITH, Senior Staff Officer, Space Studies Board

MIA BROWN, Research Associate, Space Studies Board

ANDREA REBHOLZ, Program Coordinator, Space Studies Board

JONATHAN LUTZ, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern, Space Studies Board

___________________

1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

EUROPEAN SPACE SCIENCES COMMITTEE

ATHENA COUSTENIS, LESIA-Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France, Chair

CONNY AERTS, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

NABILA AGHANIM, Université Paris-Sud, France

MAHESH ANAND, Open University, United Kingdom

ESTHER ANTONUCCI, Torino Observatory of Astronomy, Italy

SARAH BAATOUT, SCK-CEN, Belgian Nuclear Research Center, Belgium

IAN BROWN, University of Stockholm, Sweden

ALEXANDER CHOUKER, Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany

BERNDT FEUERBACHER, DLR, Germany

HELEN FRASER, Open University, United Kingdom

MARC HEPPENER, France

ANDREAS KÄÄB, Oslo University, Norway

MAARTEN KROL, Wageningen University, Netherlands

DOMINIQUE LANGEVIN, Université Paris-Sud, France

LUISA LARA, Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia, CSIC, Spain

ROSEMARY MORROW, LEGOS, France

HERMANN OPGENOORTH, Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Sweden

GERHARD PAAR, Joanneum Research, Austria

ANNE PAVY-LE-TRAON, University Hospital of Toulouse, France

MICHAEL PERRYMAN, University College Dublin, Ireland

ROBERTO PIAZZA, Milano Politecnico, Italy

MANOLIS PLIONIS, National Observatory of Athens, Greece

PETER PREU, DLR, Germany

PETRA RETTBERG, DLR, Germany

SINDY STERCKX, VITO, Belgium

HUBERTUS THOMAS, DLR, Germany

ALEXANDER TIELENS, Leiden University, Netherlands

STÉPHANE UDRY, University of Geneva, Switzerland

PEPIJN VEEFKIND, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, Netherlands

ROBERT WIMMER-SCHWEINGRUBER, University of Kiel, Germany

Staff

JEAN-CLAUDE WORMS, Chief Executive Officer

NICOLAS WALTER, Senior Science Officer

EMMANOUIL DETSIS, Science Officer

CAMELIA STEINMETZ, Administrative Coordinator

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

SPACE STUDIES BOARD

MARGARET KIVELSON, NAS, University of California, Los Angeles, Chair

JAMES H. CROCKER, NAE,1 Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (retired), Vice Chair

GREGORY P. ASNER, NAS, Carnegie Institution for Science

JEFF M. BINGHAM, Consultant

ADAM BURROWS, NAS, Princeton University

MARY LYNNE DITTMAR, Dittmar Associates

JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara

JOSEPH FULLER JR., Futron Corporation (retired)

SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research

VICTORIA HAMILTON, Southwest Research Institute

CHRYSSA KOUVELIOTOU, NAS, George Washington University

DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, NAE, University of California, Los Angeles

ROSALY M. LOPES, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

STEPHEN J. MACKWELL, American Institute of Physics

DAVID J. McCOMAS, Princeton University

LARRY PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory

ELIOT QUATAERT, University of California, Berkeley

BARBARA SHERWOOD LOLLAR, University of Toronto

HARLAN E. SPENCE, University of New Hampshire

MARK H. THIEMENS, NAS, University of California, San Diego

ERIKA WAGNER, Blue Origin

PAUL WOOSTER, Space Exploration Technologies

EDWARD L. WRIGHT, NAS, University of California, Los Angeles

Staff

MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director (through March 1, 2018)

RICHARD ROWBERG, Acting Director (March 1 through August 6, 2018)

COLLEEN HARTMAN, Director (beginning August 6, 2018)

CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator (through June 30, 2018)

TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations

CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate

MARGARET KNEMEYER, Financial Officer

___________________

1 Member, National Academy of Engineering.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

Preface

COSPAR PLANETARY PROTECTION POLICY FOR THE MARTIAN MOONS

An international consensus policy to prevent the biological cross-contamination of planetary bodies exists and is maintained by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science, which is consultative to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Currently, COSPAR’s planetary protection policy does not specify the status of sample return missions from Phobos or Deimos, the moons of Mars. Although the moons themselves are not considered potential habitats for life or of intrinsic relevance to prebiotic chemical evolution, recent studies indicate that a significant amount of material recently ejected from Mars could be present on the surface of Phobos and, to a lesser extent, Deimos. Such interplanetary ejecta might mediate the transfer of viable organisms from one body to another. Such a process is sometimes referred to as lithopanspermia—a variant of the Arrhenius panspermia hypothesis.

Multiple space agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), are interested in plans for returning samples of material from the martian moons, which need to receive a planetary protection categorization of either restricted or unrestricted Earth return. A designation of restricted Earth return, per current NASA, ESA, JAXA, and COSPAR policy, would require samples to be maintained in high containment and undergo a biohazard test protocol after return. In addition, the moons of Mars are possible targets for future human exploration. Therefore, an understanding of the potential for life from Mars to persist on Phobos or Deimos is relevant to ensuring astronaut safety on those missions.

NASA and ESA rely on independent scientific advice from, respectively, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the European Science Foundation (ESF) when faced with planetary protection questions not codified in current COSPAR policy. The National Academies and ESF have the ability to synthesize input from a wide spectrum of the scientific and technical communities and provide expert recommendations.

CREATION OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE

To lessen the scientific uncertainties concerning the planetary protection status of the martian moons, NASA and ESA commissioned researchers to perform modeling and experimental activities to assess the extent to which material from Mars might be deposited on the planet’s moons and to assess the post-ejection environmental conditions that might inactivate potential martian life transported to Phobos and Deimos. The tests included

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

hypervelocity impact sterilization of relevant Earth organisms, as well as the effects of ionizing radiation and heat on martian ejecta.

To provide an independent assessment of the results of these experimental activities, NASA and ESA issued parallel requests in 2016 to the National Academies’ Space Studies Board (SSB) and ESF’s European Space Science Committee (ESSC), respectively (see Appendix A). Both NASA and ESA specifically requested that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the ESF jointly establish an ad hoc committee to review and assess recent research sponsored by NASA and ESA relating to the planetary protection concern that hypothetical martian life might exist on the surfaces of the martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, consequent to their ejection from the surface of Mars following a major impact event. Three specific tasks were enumerated (see the next section, Tasks 1, 2, and 6 in the statement of task).

Although there was no formal Japanese involvement in the commissioning of this study, it was generally agreed by NASA, ESA, the SSB, and ESSC that some participation by independent Japanese scientists was appropriate because of JAXA’s plans to launch the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission in the mid-2020s to collect and return samples from Phobos (or Deimos) to Earth. The joint National Academies-ESF Committee on the Planetary Protection Requirements for Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons was formally established in mid-October 2017 and held its first and only planned meeting in London on November 6-9, 2017.

In March 2018, while the joint committee was assembling its draft report, NASA (with ESA concurrence) requested that the committee perform three actions (see Appendix B). First, delay the completion of its report. Second, plan to hold an additional meeting in fall 2018 to consider new results from ESA- and JAXA-sponsored groups studying the transfer of material from Mars to its moons. Third, expand the scope of its study by addressing three additional tasks (see Tasks 3 through 5 in the next section).

In fall 2018, five additional members were added to the committee to address the expanded scope of the study, and the committee met again in London on September 18-20, 2018.

The next section details the specific statements for the tasks (1-6) of the committee, in the context of their review of the ESA/NASA/JAXA research work.

STATEMENT OF TASK

The committee was specifically asked to address the following topics:

  1. Review, in the context of current understanding of conditions relevant to inactivation of carbon-based life, recent theoretical, experimental, and modeling research on the environments and physical conditions encountered by Mars ejecta during the following processes:
    1. Excavation from the martian surface via crater-forming events;
    2. While in transit through cismartian space;
    3. During deposition on Phobos or Deimos; and
    4. After deposition on Phobos or Deimos.
  2. Recommend whether missions returning samples from Phobos and/or Deimos should be classified as “restricted” or “unrestricted” Earth return in the framework of the planetary protection policy maintained by the ICSU Committee on Space Research (COSPAR);
  3. In what specific ways is classification of sample return from Deimos a different case than sample return from Phobos?
  4. What relevant information for classification of sample return is available from published studies of martian meteorites on Earth?
  5. What are the planetary protection consequences of taking a surface sample at depths of 0–2 cm versus taking a sample extending down to depths of 2-10 cm or deeper?
  6. Suggest any other refinements in planetary protection requirements that might be required to accommodate spacecraft missions to and sample returned from Phobos and/or Deimos.
Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
×

REPORT REVIEW

A complete draft of the joint committee’s report was assembled in October 2018 and sent to external reviewers on November 30. Responses to reviewer comments were drafted during the final week of December 2018 and a fully revised draft was approved for public release on January 10, 2019.

The work of the committee was made easier thanks to the important help, advice, and comments provided by numerous individuals from a variety of public and private organizations. These include the following: Allan Bennett (Public Health England), Catharine Conley (NASA), David Evans (Fluid Gravity Engineering Ltd.), Masaki Fujimoto (JAXA), Kazuhisa Fujita (JAXA), Yasuhiro Kawakatsu (JAXA), Gerhard Kminek (ESA), Kosuke Kurosawa (Chiba Institute of Technology), Manish Patel (The Open University), Victoria Pearson (The Open University), Mika Salminen (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland), J. Andrew Spry (SETI Institute), Thomas Statler (NASA), David Summers (Thales Alenia Space), Peter Triscott (Kallisto Consultancy), and Akihiko Yamagishi (Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences). The committee offers special thanks to Kai Finster (Aarhus University) for his services as a consultant and participant in its first meeting.

The European Science Foundation elected not to conduct an independent review of this report. Rather, they agreed to abide by the report review policies and practices used by the National Academies. Therefore, this Consensus Study Report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets the institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Kathrin Altwegg (University of Bern); Donna Blackmond, NAE (Scripps Research Institute); John Bridges (University of New Brunswick); Charles Cockell (University of Edinburgh); Gareth Collins (Imperial College); Dennis Discher, NAE, NAM (University of Pennsylvania); Katherine H. Freeman, NAS (Pennsylvania State University); Stephen Mackwell (American Institute of Physics); Ajay Malshe, NAE (University of Arkansas); John Spray (University of Leicester); and Erika Wagner (Blue Origin).

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Steven J. Battel, NAE (Battel Engineering, Inc.). He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Planetary Protection Classification of Sample Return Missions from the Martian Moons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25357.
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An international consensus policy to prevent the biological cross-contamination of planetary bodies exists and is maintained by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science, which is consultative to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Currently, COSPAR’s planetary protection policy does not specify the status of sample-return missions from Phobos or Deimos, the moons of Mars. Although the moons themselves are not considered potential habitats for life or of intrinsic relevance to prebiotic chemical evolution, recent studies indicate that a significant amount of material recently ejected from Mars could be present on the surface of Phobos and, to a lesser extent, Deimos.

This report reviews recent theoretical, experimental, and modeling research on the environments and physical conditions encountered by Mars ejecta during certain processes. It recommends whether missions returning samples from Phobos and/or Deimos should be classified as “restricted” or “unrestricted” Earth return in the framework of the planetary protection policy maintained by COSPAR. This report also considers the specific ways the classification of sample return from Deimos is a different case than sample return from Phobos.

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