Race, Margaret - Planetary Protection For Future Human Missions -- Addressing Science Gaps And Providing Input For Future Systems, Operations And Equipment For Mars

Abstract: 
COSPAR planetary protection (PP) principles and implementation guidelines for human Mars missions require protection of Mars from forward contamination during operations and exploration, protection of astronaut health and safety throughout the long duration mission, and safeguarding of Earth from back contamination upon return.  Engineers and scientists have begun to analyze how these requirements will constrain the diverse systems, operations and equipment necessary for future missions   While experiences from ISS and other activities in Earth orbit provide a strong foundation for planning human missions back to planetary surfaces (the first time since the Apollo program), planetary protection requirements for introduce an assortment of new challenges and data gaps, particularly due to recent new understanding about microbial life and environmental conditions on potentially habitable solar system bodies, like Mars.   
    A number of recent NASA and international workshops and studies have identified particular concerns associated with planetary protection needs, including information associated with human health and life sup-port requirements;  EVA, surface operations, contami-nation mitigation methods;  plans for in situ resource  utilization (ISRU); equipment and procedures for science exploration, sample collection and handling; and quarantine methods, containment, and systems intended to avoid back contamination of Earth.  In some cases, these concerns overlap with areas of active science investigations.
    It is clear that additional science research will be essential for narrowing knowledge gaps and contributing to productive human missions that maximize science return.   Important  information can be collected  during robotic precursor missions, in labs or analogue sites on Earth, and through  research and experiments on ISS.   Presumably less restricted missions to asteroids can also be used for gathering data or testing feed-forward concepts associated with planetary protection.
   This presentation summarizes recent information under discussion by NASA and international groups about science and technology needs for meeting PP constraints on future human missions, particularly to Mars.   Precursor  science data will be important not only preliminary mission planning,  but also as input for the upcoming NASA process for drafting a Planetary Protection Procedural Instruction (NPI) for Hu-man Extraterrestrial Missions .
   Among the key science research areas identified are those that increase information on survival of spacecraft and human associated terrestrial organisms and their molecular components in ambient martian environments;  information on sterilization and monitoring capabilities for wastes material and mission-associated equipment and samples; information on distribution of water on Mars, at both the macro- and micro-scales, both near-surface and deeper; and information on near- and far-field contamination transport. 
    Filling strategic science gaps with focused investigations will be important for eventual mission designs and operations, particularly those that control, mitigate or eliminate risks associated with biological contamination.