California-based SETI Institute has secured a contract to help NASA implement standards across the space agency's planetary protection efforts.
SETI Institute will help the agency's Office of Planetary Protection report on biological cleanliness, review technical matters, administer training, inform the masses about these efforts and develop implementation guidelines, NASA said Saturday.
NASA's planetary protection efforts aim to prevent biological contamination between Earth and planets explored during missions.
“The depth of mission experience and breadth of knowledge on the SETI Institute team will help NASA meet the technical challenges of assuring forward and backward planetary protection on the anticipated path of human exploration from the Moon to Mars,” said Lisa Pratt, planetary protection officer at NASA.
SETI has contributed its microbiology expertise to NASA's planetary protection over the past decade. Efforts with SETI's involvement include the Curiosity rover and the New Horizons flyby mission.