NASA has issued a new set of guidelines to protect Mars and the moon from germs released by planet Earth. Here’s what we know so far. By Tanvi Jain

 

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In order to protect Mars and the moon from germs released by Earth, NASA in light of increasing missions in the future has issued guidelines to avoid any contamination of the former two. For example, not only has it marked the permanently overshadowed areas of the moon as sensitive but has also made it mandatory for anyone going to the moon to provide biological materials included in spacecraft hardware and payloads – both living as well as dead. 

For the 2024 scheduled Artemis mission, it has been made compulsory to provide the amount and disposition of biological materials, even the waste. NASA also mentioned that while other areas of the moon are not prone to terrestrial contamination, but other lunar historic sites such as the Apollo landing site need to be protected. 

 

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“We’re trying to balance the interests of the science community, the interest of the human exploration community and the interest of the commercial community,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was quoted as saying by Space.com. 

NASA will develop risk-informed decision-making implementation strategies for human missions to Mars, which account for and balance the needs of human space exploration, science, commercial activities, and safety. Specifically, NASA will develop guidelines and utilise data and experience gained via ground-based tests, the International Space Station (ISS), Artemis, and other missions,” the space agency recently mentioned in a directive. 

 

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“NASA will determine if it is necessary to conduct a precursor in situ experiments at a location close to the human mission landing or operating sites to characterise any organic constituents that are present, noting that the measurement should be on airborne materials and on materials from the surface and down to a depth to which astronauts may be exposed, and to establish a baseline scientific understanding,” it added, also confirming that it will continue to leverage the ISS as a testbed in preparation for human missions to Mars. 

Related: Mars Sample Return Programme: NASA To Bring Samples From Mars Back To Earth