WASHINGTON — NASA will establish an independent committee to review its planetary protection policies to reflect new developments in human space exploration and commercial spaceflight.
In an April 23 statement, the agency said it will create an independent Planetary Protection Review Board to recommend any updates to existing regulations intended to prevent contamination of potentially habitable worlds by NASA spacecraft, or contamination of the Earth by any life that may exist on those worlds.
“It’s vital we revisit the planetary protection guidelines put in place in a previous era to ensure our protection standards reflect the current and future realities of space exploration,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said in the statement.
The board will be chaired by Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator for science who is best known as the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission that flew past Pluto and the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69. Stern also provides commercial expertise as a board member and former chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
“I’m looking forward to our helping ensure that we have a set of guidelines that help enable a new era of civil, commercial, and public-private partnership exploration, while safeguarding both ...