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Adv Space Res. 2003;31(1):87-95.

Critical issues in connection with human missions to Mars: protection of and from the Martian environment.

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German Aerospace Center DLR, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Cologne, Germany.


Human missions to Mars are planned to happen within this century. Activities associated therewith will interact with the environment of Mars in two reciprocal ways: (i) the mission needs to be protected from the natural environmental elements that can be harmful to human health, the equipment or to their operations; (ii) the specific natural environment of Mars should be protected so that it retains its value for scientific and other purposes. The following environmental elements need to be considered in order to protect humans and the equipment on the planetary surface: (i) cosmic ionizing radiation, (ii) solar particle events; (iii) solar ultraviolet radiation; (iv) reduced gravity; (v) thin atmosphere; (vi) extremes in temperatures and their fluctuations; and (vii) surface dust. In order to protect the planetary environment, the requirements for planetary protection as adopted by COSPAR for lander missions need to be revised in view of human presence on the planet. Landers carrying equipment for exobiological investigations require special consideration to reduce contamination by terrestrial microorganisms and organic matter to the greatest feasible extent. Records of human activities on the planet's surface should be maintained in sufficient detail that future scientific experimenters can determine whether environmental modifications have resulted from explorations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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