Protecting the planet from Martian sample contamination
The National Research Council released a report addressing the potential for living entities to be included in samples returned from Mars and the potential for large-scale effects on Earth’s environment by any returned entity released to the environment. The panel that prepared the report was chaired by ASU geoscientist Jack Farmer.NASA maintains a planetary protection policy to avoid the forward biological contamination of other worlds by terrestrial organisms, and back biological contamination of Earth from the return of extraterrestrial materials by spaceflight missions
The report describes the status of technological measures that could be taken on a mission to prevent the inadvertent release of a returned sample into Earth’s biosphere.
Ref: Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions Committee on the Review of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions; National Research Council, ISBN: 978-0-309-13073-8, 90 pages, 8.5 x 11, paperback (2009)