Research Topic

Revising Planetary Protection Protocols for Public and Private Actors

About this Research Topic

Although the international treaties associated with the exploration of space were relatively progressive in their appreciation for the environmental concerns associated with traveling to various celestial bodies by both robots and humans, current standards suggest that the concern for the environment in space is now lagging.

In particular, there are various concerns relating to space debris mitigation, biological contamination on pre-and-post-biotic celestial bodies, and even the concern that humanity is irreversibly physically altering many celestial bodies, without knowledge or concern for the potential outcomes. On the other end, are many who, while acknowledging the alterations that humanity has already caused to numerous space environments, are nevertheless keen on preserving those alterations in perpetuity as archaeologically valuable sites.

While NGOs like COSPAR have been at the forefront of dealing with some of these concerns, the growing number of private space missions, combined with and the lack of effective national regulatory and oversight organizations, suggests that this area related to space exploration, in particular, is ripe for change and innovation. This is a multidisciplinary area that requires the expertise of various environmental, geological, biological and legal, and social professionals to develop useful guidelines, incentives, metrics, assays, regulations, and policies such that we don’t continue to spoil space.

The purpose of this Research Topic is to bring together various academics and professionals from various disciplines to produce a comprehensive plan for protecting the various and vastly different space environments both near to and far from Earth.


Keywords: Planetary Protection, Astrobiology, COSPAR, Environmental Protection, Exoplanets


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Although the international treaties associated with the exploration of space were relatively progressive in their appreciation for the environmental concerns associated with traveling to various celestial bodies by both robots and humans, current standards suggest that the concern for the environment in space is now lagging.

In particular, there are various concerns relating to space debris mitigation, biological contamination on pre-and-post-biotic celestial bodies, and even the concern that humanity is irreversibly physically altering many celestial bodies, without knowledge or concern for the potential outcomes. On the other end, are many who, while acknowledging the alterations that humanity has already caused to numerous space environments, are nevertheless keen on preserving those alterations in perpetuity as archaeologically valuable sites.

While NGOs like COSPAR have been at the forefront of dealing with some of these concerns, the growing number of private space missions, combined with and the lack of effective national regulatory and oversight organizations, suggests that this area related to space exploration, in particular, is ripe for change and innovation. This is a multidisciplinary area that requires the expertise of various environmental, geological, biological and legal, and social professionals to develop useful guidelines, incentives, metrics, assays, regulations, and policies such that we don’t continue to spoil space.

The purpose of this Research Topic is to bring together various academics and professionals from various disciplines to produce a comprehensive plan for protecting the various and vastly different space environments both near to and far from Earth.


Keywords: Planetary Protection, Astrobiology, COSPAR, Environmental Protection, Exoplanets


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

02 August 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

02 August 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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