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The COSPAR planetary protection requirements for space missions to Venus

Zorzano, María Paz and Olsson-Francis, Karen and Doran, Peter T. and Rettberg, P. and Coustenis, Athena and Ilyin, Vyacheslav and Raulin, Francois and Shehhi, Omar Al and Groen, Frank and Grasset, Olivier and Nakamura, Akiko and Ballesteros, Olga Prieto and Sinibaldi, Silvio and Suzuki, Yohey and Kumar, Praveen and Kminek, Gerhard and Hedman, Niklas and Fujimoto, Masaki and Zaitsev, Maxim and Hayes, Alex and Peng, Jing and Ammannito, Eleonora and Mustin, Christian and Xu, Kanyan (2023) The COSPAR planetary protection requirements for space missions to Venus. Life Sciences in Space Research, 37, pp. 18-24. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.lssr.2023.02.001. ISSN 2214-5524.

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Official URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lssr.2023.02.001


The Committee on Space Research’s (COSPAR) Planetary Protection Policy states that all types of missions to Venus are classified as Category II, as the planet has significant research interest relative to the processes of chemical evolution and the origin of life, but there is only a remote chance that terrestrial contamination can proliferate and compromise future investigations. "Remote chance" essentially implies the absence of environments where terrestrial organisms could survive and replicate. Hence, Category II missions only require simplified planetary protection documentation, including a planetary protection plan that outlines the intended or potential impact targets, brief Pre- and Post-launch analyses detailing impact strategies, and a Post-encounter and End-of-Mission Report. These requirements were applied in previous missions and are foreseen for the numerous new international missions planned for the exploration of Venus, which include NASA’s VERITAS and DAVINCI missions, and ESA’s EnVision mission. There are also several proposed missions including India’s Shukrayaan-1, and Russia’s Venera-D. These multiple plans for spacecraft coincide with a recent interest within the scientific community regarding the cloud layers of Venus, which have been suggested by some to be habitable environments. The proposed, privately funded, MIT/Rocket Lab Venus Life Finder mission is specifically designed to assess the habitability of the Venusian clouds and to search for signs of life. It includes up to three atmospheric probes, the first one targeting a launch in 2023. The COSPAR Panel on Planetary Protection evaluated scientific data that underpins the planetary protection requirements for Venus and the implications of this on the current policy. The Panel has done a thorough review of the current knowledge of the planet’s conditions prevailing in the clouds. Based on the existing literature, we conclude that the environmental conditions within the Venusian clouds are orders of magnitude drier and more acidic than the tolerated survival limits of any known terrestrial extremophile organism. Because of this future orbital, landed or entry probe missions to Venus do not require extra planetary protection measures. This recommendation may be revised in the future if new observations or reanalysis of past data show any significant increment, of orders of magnitude, in the water content and the pH of the cloud layer.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/193857/
Document Type:Article
Title:The COSPAR planetary protection requirements for space missions to Venus
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Doran, Peter T.Department of Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USAUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Rettberg, P.UNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4439-2395UNSPECIFIED
Coustenis, AthenaLESIA, Paris Observatory, CNRS, PSL Univ., 92195, Meudon Cedex, FranceUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Ilyin, VyacheslavInstitute for Biomedical Problems, 123007, Khoroshevskoye shosse 76a, Moscow, RussiaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Raulin, FrancoisUniv Paris Est Créteil and Université Paris Cité, CNRS, LISA, F-94010, Créteil, FranceUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Shehhi, Omar AlUAE Space Agency, United Arab EmiratesUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Groen, FrankNASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, 20546, USAUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Grasset, OlivierNantes Université, Univ Angers, Le Mans Université, CNRS, UMR 6112, Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géosciences, F-44000, Nantes, FranceUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Nakamura, AkikoDepartment of Planetology, Kobe University, 657-8501, Kobe, JapanUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Ballesteros, Olga PrietoCentro de Astrobiología (CAB), CSIC-INTA, Carretera de Ajalvir km 4, 28850, Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, SpainUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Sinibaldi, SilvioPlanetary Protection Officer, Independent Safety Office (TEC-QI), European Space Agency (ESA) - ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, 2201, AZ, Noordwijk, the NetherlandsUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Suzuki, YoheyDepartment of Earth and Planetary Science, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033, JapanUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Kumar, PraveenDeputy Director, ISRO HQ, IndiaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Kminek, GerhardEuropean Space Agency (ESA) – ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, 2201, AZ, Noordwijk, the NetherlandsUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Hedman, NiklasCommittee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section, Office for Outer Space Affairs, United Nations Office at Vienna, AustriaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Fujimoto, MasakiJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), Kanagawa, JapanUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Zaitsev, MaximPlanetary Physics Dept., Space Research Inst. of Russian Acad. of Sciences, Moscow, RussiaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Hayes, AlexCornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853-6801, USAUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Peng, JingChina National Space Administration, Beijing, ChinaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Ammannito, EleonoraItalian Space Agency (ASI), Rome, ItalyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Mustin, ChristianCentre National des Etudes Spatiales (CNES), FranceUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Xu, KanyanLaboratory of Space Microbiology, Shenzhou Space Biotechnology Group, Chinese Academy of Space Technology, Beijing, ChinaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:4 February 2023
Journal or Publication Title:Life Sciences in Space Research
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Page Range:pp. 18-24
Keywords:Committee on Space Research’s (COSPAR), Planetary Protection, space missions, Venus
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R FR - Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Project ISS LIFE 2.0
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:09 Mar 2023 10:59
Last Modified:24 Jul 2023 09:33

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