NASA and other space agencies are preparing to explore the Moon and Mars. Now, in a tweet, American agency administrator Jim Brindestine said that NASA has updated its policies to prevent Earth’s contaminating organisms from being carried out in space exploration.
“We will protect scientific discoveries and the planet’s environment, allowing for dynamic human exploration and commercial innovation on the Moon and Mars,” he said.
Although it is currently shipping unmanned vehicles, the agency is concerned with biological contaminants linked to human presence. This is because, if toxic substances are taken during the exploration, it is possible that the search for extraterrestrial life will be compromised. At the same time, NASA wants to ensure that, when it comes back to Earth, space contaminants are not brought to the planet.
NEWS: We are updating @ NASA’s policies to match our goals and capabilities. We will protect scientific discoveries and the Earth’s environment, while enabling dynamic human exploration and commercial innovation on the Moon and Mars. More: https://t.co/4lytWlSDyi
– Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 9, 2020
The agency issued two interim directives to update its policies. The first one focused on robotic and manned missions between the Moon and the Earth. “We are enabling our important goal of sustainable exploration of the Moon and, at the same time, safeguarding future science in the regions permanently shaded,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, director of Scientific Mission at NASA.
Meanwhile, the second directive focuses on contaminating Mars. The agency will use data and experience gained from ground testing to create the guidelines and develop the capacity to monitor biological processes linked to the presence of humans on the planet. In addition, NASA wants to develop technologies to reduce contamination, such as more effective waste disposal techniques. Finally, the agency wants to better understand the environmental processes of the Red Planet to find out how to sterilize terrestrial organisms.
NASA plans to send a man and woman Moon by 2024.
Mission to take moon astronauts
After the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the development of NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, was finally restarted – and with a “bang”: the main stage rocket for the Artemis I mission was turned on and underwent a complete system check.
When complete, the SLS will be more powerful than the Saturn-V, which took the Moon man during the Apollo missions. In development for more than a decade, SLS is a controversial project that has already experienced several delays and bursts in budget: its initial launch was scheduled for 2017.