Browse Publications Technical Papers 2002-01-2470

New Rules for Environment and Planetary Protection in Mars Orbit and on the Surface of Mars 2002-01-2470

This paper recalls the initial status of the Mars planet environment, the present status following the arrival of different spacecraft to Mars, and what could happen in the coming years with the arrival of planned missions.
It describes the amount of possible ejected hardware currently anticipated for vehicles incoming to Mars:
  • spent rocket stages going to Mars because of interplanetary flight needs,
  • orbiting vehicles discarding hardware and sensor protection, including aero-capture vehicles jettisoning their heat-shields,
  • landing vehicles with airbags, or retro-rocket pollution
  • and potential Earth Return vehicles trying to reduce their mass before leaving the vicinity of Mars in order to save mass and propellant.
Planetary protection aspects are described, as well as the existing rules of COSPAR. A comparison with the Earth orbit environment before the space age is provided, as well as what has become of that environment now. It proposes and discusses the necessary regulations to set for new missions in order to protect the environment at Mars for the future, keeping in mind what has happened in Earth orbit in terms of space debris.


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