Mars Sample Return Planning: Planetary Protection Requirements and Challenges for a Sample Receiving Facility 2008-01-1983
Robotic Mars sample return missions will involve technical and design challenges in all phases of the mission in order to comply with planetary protection (PP) policies aimed at avoiding both forward and back contamination. This paper provides an overview those policies and discusses the implications for associated mission hardware and operations. Special considerations are associated with sample collection, handling, containment, and testing, both on Mars and upon return to Earth. Planetary protection concerns also translate into unusual technical challenges in the design of a Sample Receiving Facility (SRF) where martian materials will be handled during screening and testing based on a Draft Protocol. It is crucial that engineers be aware of planetary protection requirements and their potential impacts on different mission phases. The output and recommendations from numerous workshops and research efforts provide useful technical and scientific guidelines that are critical for mission success.