Homehttps://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/Sciencehttps://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/NASA Expert Group Says We Don't Have To Be Careful When Contaminating Other Worlds
NASA Expert Group Says We Don't Have To Be Careful When Contaminating Other Worlds
It's time to update the rules. This is the conclusion of a panel that looked at NASA's planetary protection rules. It was smart at the dawn of the space age to think how we inadvertently pollute other worlds with terrestrial germs as we survey the solar system. But now that we know much more than we did then, the rules do not fit.
The Bureau of Planetary Defense (PPO) addresses these rules and how they apply to spacecraft. Not only for NASA, but for other partner countries as well. The Planetary Independent Review Board (PPIRB) produced this new report. PPIRB was chaired by Alan Stern, a prominent American planetary scientist and principal investigator for NASA's New Horizons mission in Pluto.
Whenever humans send a spacecraft to another body, there is a risk of infecting this body with germs from Earth. Eliminating or reducing this risk is the only way to guarantee integrity in the search for life. It takes great pain to sterilize spacecraft, but the risk is never zero. Spacecraft are prepared in sterile clean rooms before launch, and in the 1
970s Viking landscapes were sterilized in huge ovens built specifically for this purpose.
Conversely, we must protect Earth from all unwanted visitors who may return to visit us on one of our spacecraft. It may sound like something science fiction, but since we still don't know what germs may exist on Mars, Enceladus or another world, we need to protect ourselves from Earth pollution.
The Planetary Protection Service assists in the construction of sterile spacecraft or what they call a low biological load spacecraft. They also help develop low-risk flight plans that help protect other bodies as well as the Earth. OPP also helps to develop a working space policy to achieve their goals.
But is it really necessary?
According to this new report, with more and more space exploration and more countries and trade participants, the old set of rules may need to be updated.
"The landscape for planetary protection is moving very fast. It's exciting now that for the first time many different players are able to consider missions of commercial and scientific interest to organs in our solar system, "said Thomas Zurbbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate." We want to be prepared in this new environment with thoughtful and practical policies that enable us to make scientific discoveries and preserve the integrity of our planet and the places we visit. "
Many standards were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. Moon and Mars, most often visited The whole lunar surface was initially classified as important for the study of the origin of life, but this did not hold up and now not many scientists consider the moon very significant in this study. At least not everything.
poles play a role in life history as they have long-lasting deposits of water, but according to PPIRB, there is no reason to think that the rest of the moon does, according to them different regions of the moon must have different standards of protection.
The Moon and the Moon Portal are probably points of future missions to Mars. Is there any risk of cross contamination between the two? What about when spacecraft return samples to Earth, as will the Mars 2020 Rover?
The reality is that material from Mars has been transferred to Earth in orders of magnitude greater than anyone can ever make. There has been a natural flow of Martian material to Earth for billions of years as meteors strike Mars and send debris into space. Some of these debris have landed on Earth. The PPIRB stated that the overall risk of pollution of the Earth by Martian materials should be reviewed.