Reply to Attn of: Science Mission Directorate/Deputy Associate Administrato for Research
Dr. Margaret Kivelson
Chair, Space Studies Board
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 5th Street, NW
Washington, DV 20001
Dear Dr. Kivelson,
A report issued in 1985 by a subcommittee of the International Council of Scientific Unions described the first code-of-conduct for Planetary Protection and recommended that the newly-formed Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) should resume responsibility for matters of Planetary Protection; and in 1967 the Outer Space Treaty formalized the legal requirements for Nation to avoid “harmful contamination” of celestial bodies and “adverse changes in the environment of the Earth.” The COSPAR guidelines have been updated in the interim and have been used by all space spacefaring nations to guide their perparations for encounters with solor system bodies.
Recent reviews by the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) committe and the National Academies of Science (NAS) (Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes, 2018) have raise concerns about whether advancements in science and engineering are outpacing those COSPAR guidelines. These reviews also raise concerns about whether the guidelines are outdated in regard to the growing interest from commercial and private groups in exploration and utilization of Mars and other bodies in space.
In responce to these concerns, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator has convened the Plaetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB) that will look at updating and issue its report (in presentation form) by early September 2019.
Statement of Task: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) will establish an add hoc committee to review the findings of the PPIRB and comment on their Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes (2018)
In order for NASA to make optimal use the results of this study, NASA would like to receive the Academy’s findings within the first quarter of 2020.
Once agreement with the NASEM on the scope and cost for this study has beeb achieved, the NASA Contractin officer will issue an task order for implementation. Dr. Michael New, the Deputy Associate Administrator for Research, will be the technical point of contact for this effort and may be reached at (202) 358-1766 or firstname.lastname@example.org.