Overview of the NASA/European Space Agency Mars Sample Return mission as now foreseen.
Credit: ESA/K. Oldenburg



Today, the National Space Council released the National Strategy for Planetary Protection.

“This Strategy will advance the Nation’s role in the sustainable exploration of space by appropriately protecting other planetary bodies and the Earth from potentially harmful biological contamination from space exploration activities,” according to a National Space Council statement.

Credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX


The strategy sets forth three overarching objectives corresponding to forward contamination, backward contamination, and private sector coordination:

Objective 1: Avoid harmful forward contamination by developing and implementing risk assessment and science-based guidelines and updating the interagency payload review process.

Objective 2: Avoid backward contamination by developing a Restricted Return Program to protect against adverse effects on the Earth environment due to the potential return of extraterrestrial life.

Objective 3: Incorporate the perspective and needs of the private sector by soliciting feedback and developing guidelines regarding private sector activities with potential planetary protection implications.

Wanted: industry feedback

The strategy is seeking feedback on planetary protection issues of interest to industry. During this process, industry will be encouraged to provide feedback on relevant United States policy, standards, guidance, and government research and development opportunities that would benefit from private sector involvement. As a deliverable, the strategy requests a report on industry feedback and R&D partnership opportunities within three months.

The strategy can be found here at:


A fact sheet can be found here:


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