Planetary Protection Officer

Planetary Protection Officer

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Credit: VOLKER STEGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Planetary Protection Officer Dr John Rummel with the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Rummel is employed by NASA to design and supervise the building of the sealed laboratory that will study Martian soil and rocks. The tight quarantine placed on the samples will prevent contamination of the samples by Earth life, and also prevent Earth being contaminated by possible Martian life. NASA have plans to launch a mission to return samples from Mars by 2014. Much research is planned to achieve the high levels of cleanliness and security needed, as well as an agreement on what constitutes life. Planning is also needed to co-ordinate distribution of the samples to researchers. Photographed in 2002.

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