Planetary protection involves preventing biological contamination on both outbound and sample return missions to other planetary bodies. Numerous areas of research in astrobiology/exobiology are improving our understanding of the potential for survival of Earth microbes in extraterrestrial environments, relevant to preventing contamination of other bodies by organisms carried on spacecraft. Research is required to improve NASA’s understanding of the potential for both forward and backward contamination, how to minimize it, and to set standards in these areas for spacecraft preparation and operating procedures.
Improvements in technologies and methods for evaluating the potential for life in returned samples are also of interest.

The Planetary Science Division plans to compete the Planetary Protection Research program element in ROSES-2016 (NNH16ZDA001N), but the status has been temporarily changed to TBD. The final NOI and proposal due date for this program element will be released as an amendment to ROSES-2016. Proposals will be due no earlier than 90 days after the release of the amendment.

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