SMA Leadership Profile: Nick Benardini
January 31, 2023
As NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer, James “Nick” Benardini knows his role is all about the community: his NASA discipline colleagues, agency programs and projects, the international community, and academia.
Protecting the Planet: Planetary Protection vs. Planetary Defense
October 14, 2022
Although both Planetary Protection and Planetary Defense programs at NASA include the word “planetary” and aim to protect the planet, that’s where similarities end. These two vital efforts oversee very different aspects of the agency’s role in protecting Earth, and in some cases, other planets.
NASA Releases New Planetary Protection Standard
August 31, 2022
NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance released NASA-STD-8719.27, Planetary Protection Standard, effective Aug. 30, 2022. The standard is a follow-on document complementing NPR 8715.24, Planetary Protection Provisions for Robotic Extraterrestrial Missions. It addresses and is relevant to both crewed and robotic missions and covers the technical details a mission should consider for the design and execution of the Planetary Protection mission throughout the project life cycle. It is relevant starting in the Mission Concept Review and System Requirements Review phase by defining the Planetary Protection categorization to end-of-mission disposal reporting.
New Course Introduces Key Planetary Protection Concepts
August 01, 2022
Last month, the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance and NASA Safety Center released “Planetary Protection Overview” (SMA-STL-WBT-300) in SATERN. The new course includes the definition of Planetary Protection, details of its implementation and practices, and information about its applicability to some of NASA’s space flight missions.
COSPAR Meeting on Planetary Protection for Crewed Mars Missions
May 09, 2022
The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) is holding a workshop June 1 and 2, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern, for experts to weigh in on aspects of quarantine and sample containment for the first crewed Mars mission.
NPR 8715.24 Updates Agency’s Approach to Planetary Protection
September 28, 2021
NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) recently released NPR 8715.24, Planetary Protection Provisions for Robotic Extraterrestrial Missions, effective Sept. 24, 2021. The new NASA Procedural Requirement (NPR) covers the agency’s new paradigm and overall approach to Planetary Protection and takes the place of the now cancelled NPR 8020.12D, Planetary Protection Provisions for Robotic Extraterrestrial Missions to integrate Planetary Protection.
COSPAR Updates Planetary Protection Policy for Lunar Missions
August 31, 2021
Recently, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) updated its Planetary Protection policy for the Moon, including adding Category II sub-designations to accommodate missions to different regions. The new Category IIa and IIb designations reflect the importance of the Permanently Shadowed Regions (PSRs) to science and the Artemis generation of human exploration.
NASA Announces New Planetary Protection Officer
May 27, 2021
NASA named Dr. J. Nick Benardini as the agency Planetary Protection Officer within the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, effective June 7.
Ingenuity Helicopter to Take Flight in April
April 08, 2021
The Mars Ingenuity Helicopter will take its first steps toward demonstrating powered flight in the Martian atmosphere, with a first attempt at a powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet scheduled for no earlier than April 8, 2021. The helicopter rode to Mars in the Perseverance Rover's belly pan and will be deployed for flight testing from the red planet's surface in April.
Mars Perseverance Rover Set to Land on the Red Planet Feb. 18
February 16, 2021
The Mars 2020 mission, including the Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Helicopter, will land on Mars on February 18, 2021. A first on a Mars mission, the Sample Caching System included on Perseverance will collect and store short cores of Martian rocks and soils destined for future return to Earth and study with advanced instrumentation. The system is complex, including a drill for sample collection and tubes to seal and store the collected samples until a future mission can retrieve them.