Planetary Protection

What Are We Protecting Mars From — And Why Do We Bother?

Mars, the small, cold fourth rock from the Sun, is being given serious consideration by 21st century explorers. Entrepreneur Elon Musk has ambitious plans to send humans to the Red Planet within seven years (and bring them back again); NASA has flown both rovers and landers; and NASA, the European Space Agency, and China have announced plans to each add a rover to the mix in 2020. Even India has…

Scientist Interview - Margaret Race - Planetary Protector

Dr. Margaret Race is concerned with protecting the planets - not just Earth, but Mars and beyond. Her work focuses on ensuring that missions to the Red Planet and other Solar System bodies do not inadvertently bring terrestrial microbes along (which would complicate our search for indigenous extraterrestrial life) or return any microbes to Earth (which might be biohazardous). Her research on…