- Status Report
- November 23, 2023
Report: National Strategy for Planetary Protection
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.
Planetary protection refers to the policy and practice of protecting scientific investigations by limiting biological contamination of other planetary bodies and protecting the Earth’s biosphere by avoiding harmful biological contamination by returning spacecraft. This national strategy balances U.S. interests in promoting scientific discovery, human exploration, and the growth of private sector space activities, all with due consideration for public safety and applicable domestic and international obligations.
As the United States continues to lead in space exploration and commercialization, national policy must keep pace to accelerate our world-class commercial space sector and scientific enterprise, while appropriately avoiding biological contamination.
Planetary protection against “forward contamination” ensures the validity of potential scientific discoveries in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Planetary protection against “backward contamination” ensures that the Earth’s biosphere is not adversely affected by the return of potentially hazardous microbes.
Highlights of the National Strategy for Planetary Protection:
This strategy outlines steps to implement direction from the 2020 National Space Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead U.S. departments and agencies in the development of planetary protection operational guidelines.
Meeting the Strategy’s objectives will ensure a cohesive National effort that balances scientific discovery, human exploration, and commercial activity in space, while meeting applicable international and domestic obligations.
The United States will continue to lead in the sustainable exploration of space by appropriately protecting Earth and other planetary bodies.
Best practices developed by the United States that account for commercial and international partners will ensure safety, sustainability, and predictability in space for the benefit of all humankind.
Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council Scott Pace, Ph.D., and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., released the following statements:
Scott Pace, Ph.D., said: “Current and future missions to Mars and other destinations necessitate a strategy to support a safe, sustainable, and predictable Earth and space environment. By establishing objectives for the implementation of the 2020 National Space Policy’s direction on planetary protection, this strategy continues American leadership in scientific discovery, human exploration, and private sector space activities.”
Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., said: “The United States has made amazing strides in space exploration and with these great strides comes a responsibility to protect Earth and other planetary bodies from biological contamination. This Strategy upholds our Nation’s values, advances scientific discovery in space, and supports private sector activities through sustainable and safe means. I am grateful for the work of the Trump Administration to further American leadership in space.”