Lisa Pratt, recently appointed planetary protection officer at NASA, has said her near-term priorities include the Mars 2020 rover mission and InSight Mars lander mission that is set to take off May 5, SpaceNews reported Monday.
Pratt, an astrobiologist and former professor at Indiana University’s department of Earth and atmospheric sciences, said she aims to reassess how NASA manages government and commercial space missions and ensures that such missions comply with planetary protection regulations.
“For me, the main thing that happens with that move is that it gives us an opportunity to really refocus on facilitation of missions,” Pratt said during her Thursday presentation before the Planetary Science Advisory Committee.
“We have to do it in a way that assists missions, and we don’t look like some kind of sheriff’s department that is constantly coming down on the missions,” she added.
She noted that her office has begun to assess several strategic and technical issues with planetary protection implementation and protocols, including commercial sterilization methods and human spaceflight missions to Mars.