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Questions tagged [planetary-protection]

The careful sterilization of any space probes or missions to prevent contaminating any extraterrestrial worlds with life from Earth.

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How are interplanetary spacecraft protected from biological contamination while being integrated on their launchers?

After having been disinfected in some NASA lab for forward planetary protection reasons, how are spacecraft stored and brought to the launch pad and loaded into the fairings, in order to prevent them ...
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1answer
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Does exploration of Venus' atmosphere now require any planetary protection protocols?

This answer quotes Marc Rayman's August 21, 2018 Dawn Journal entry: Not all solar system bodies need such protection. The Moon, Mercury and Venus, for example, have not been of interest for ...
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1answer
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Why was Dawn placed into an orbit that would only be stable for “decades”

Last year NASA put Dawn into an orbit around Ceres that Ars Technica said "would remain stable for decades" so as to not contaminate Ceres. Decades are pretty small on the cosmic scale though. Why ...
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1answer
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What will happen to Parker Solar Probe in the long term?

Will the probe be intentionally crashed anywhere? Or is keeping space decontaminated not an issue here since temperature and radiation will sterilize anything in that kind of orbit?
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1answer
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Why would bringing samples from Mars back to Earth be a “civilization-level changing capability”?

The Space News article NASA continues Mars sample return mission studies Among those planned missions is Mars sample return, a multi-mission architecture that involves collecting samples of Martian ...
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2answers
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Why not bring life to the atmosphere of Venus along with the next exploring mission?

Why not bring cyanobacteria and fertilizer to the atmosphere of Venus to improve conditions for life there by producing oxygen ? Planetary protection could be a reason. According to Wikipedia: ...
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Is Curiosity allowed to investigate the subsurface of the “clay unit ” near Mount Sharp?

From the bottom image in this article from september 2016 it can be seen that there was a possible path for Curiosity in the direction of Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons). At the end of januari 2018 however ...
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Why is Curiosity not heading for Peace Vallis?

For over 5 years Curiosity has been successfully searching for many signs that water was once present at Gale crater. Its geology is notable for containing both clays and sulfate minerals that may ...
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1answer
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What sterilizations or other preparations or approval were necessary to send the Tesla Roadster into an orbit that may impact life-capable planets?

I understand NASA and other space agencies have rules in place to protect planets or moons that might harbor life. This includes requirements to sterilize spacecraft as well as avoid impacts. There ...
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Is it true that NASA is hiring a new 'planetary protection officer'?

NASA is hiring a new 'planetary protection officer' to defend Earth from alien matter, and the pay is a six-figure salary: as much as $187,000 a year. When we are not sure whether aliens exist, why ...
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3answers
133 views

How does “planetary protection” apply to Europa since Europa is not a planet?

NASA has this "planetary protection" scheme. But it seems to apply to non-planets, like Enceladus and Europa. Thus Galileo and Cassini probes are crashed into their gas giants. How does this add up? ...
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Why are we concerned about Cassini contaminating Saturn's moons when we landed Huygens probe on one of them?

Cassini is scheduled to crash land into Saturn later in 2017. The reason stated was that they did not want to risk contaminating any of Saturn's moons. However, during the Cassini mission, we landed ...
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Why do we worry about contaminating some solar bodies but not others?

On 15th September 2017, the Cassini probe will be destroyed by crashing it into Saturn. This will be done in order to eliminate the unlikely risk of it crashing into and forward contaminating one of ...
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2answers
485 views

What plan does SpaceX have for planetary protection?

In the world of space exploration, the international community is extremely concerned with avoiding contamination of extraterrestrial bodies with life from Earth. NASA has a very robust and stringent ...
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7k views

Why do deep space probes have to be sterilized?

Correct me if I'm wrong but a probe to Mars will take months, during which time it's exposed to a vacuum and irradiated by the sun. It sounds to me like this would kill any micro-organisms on the ...