NASA announced last Thursday (09) an update in policies to prevent the effects of contamination from space exploration, specifically on the Moon and Mars. For that, two main guidelines (NASA Interim Directives – NID) were indicated on the necessary care in robotic and human missions, to protect these places and the Earth from possible biological contagion.
The first of them, entitled NID 8715.128, presents measures to control possible contagions in own or affiliated projects. The activities involve landing, exploration or orbit around the Moon, and aim to avoid a scenario that takes an organism from Earth to the celestial body.
“We are making our important objective of sustainable exploration of the Moon possible, while at the same time protecting future science in unexplored regions. These places have immense scientific value in shaping our understanding of the history of our planet, moon and solar system, ”said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA administrator.
Landing of Apollo 15 on the Moon Pixabay / Playback
The second guideline, NID 8715.129, covers the possible contamination originating from Mars to Earth, through samples brought for studies. “Protecting the Earth from possible contamination is the highest priority for planetary protection in Mars exploration,” says the agency’s statement.
“It is important that future missions leave a primitive environment behind, so that we know that a possible discovery has not been left by us before or will impact other research,” said Jim Bridenstine, director of the agency.
In this sense, another objective of NASA policies and planetary protection requirements is to ensure that the search for extraterrestrial life can be conducted more safely and reliably.
“This NID will enable human exploration on Mars and create new opportunities for inspiring science and innovative commercial activities. I believe that science and human exploitation are complementary ventures and I am excited to see political reforms open a new era of discovery ”, he added.