National Aeronautics and Space Administration Planetary Protection Office

The following online news articles present discussions relevant to various aspects of planetary protection. While all attempts are made to verify the links to the articles, NASA is not responsible in the event that an article is no longer maintained in an archive. Note that some online services require registration before their archives can be searched, and may additionally require payment to retrieve an archived article.

News Sites

General News

Putting the ethics into planetary protection
Astrobiology Magazine, August 10, 2018

AMA: Lisa Pratt, NASA Planetary Protection Officer
Indianapolis Monthly, August 2018

Should the Moon Be Quarantined?
Scientific American, August 3, 2018

If We Ever Want to Walk on Mars, We’d Better Get Serious About Planetary Protection, August 1, 2018

Mars’ South Pole May Hide a Large Underground Lake, July 25, 2018

As Space Becomes a Busy Place, NASA Bolsters Its Planet-Contamination Police
Scientific American, July 3, 2018

Report recommends NASA revise its planetary protection policies
Space News, July 2, 2018

In Search of New Rules to Protect Other Worlds From Earth’s Cooties
Wired, July 2, 2018

Sterilising an antenna for Mars, June 27, 2018

Bacteria Survive in NASA’s Clean Rooms by Eating Cleaning Products
The Atlantic, June 5, 2018

A new era of planetary protection
The Space Review, April 30, 2018

Space agencies aim to deliver rocks from Mars to Earth
BBC, April 26, 2018

Kim Stanley Robinson Makes the Socialist Case for Space Exploration
In These Times, April 22, 2018

There’s only so much time left to look for life on Mars before life arrives from Earth
GeekWire, April 15, 2018

Inside the Cleanroom Where NASA’s New Mars Lander Waits to Launch
Wired, April 9, 2018

InSight ready for final preparations for a trip to land on Mars, April 9, 2018

JPL Scientist Has One of the Most Important Cleaning Jobs in this Part of the Galaxy
Pasadena Now, April 4, 2018

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Hits 2,000 Sol (Martian Day) Milestone
Popular Mechanics, March 22, 2018

NASA begins Mars 2020 spacecraft pre-launch assembly
New Atlas, March 15, 2018

Crush Of Cubesats Prompts Rethink Of Planetary Protection Protocols
Aviation Week (subscription required), March 14, 2018

NASA spacecraft reveals Jupiter’s interior in unprecedented detail
The Guardian, March 7, 2018

NASA Mars Lander Arrives at Launch Site to Prep for May Liftoff, March 2, 2018

Lisa Pratt Cites Near-Term Priorities as NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer
Executive Biz, February 27, 2018

New NASA planetary protection officer seeks greater cooperation with human and commercial missions
Space News, February 26, 2018

Indiana University astrobiologist named planetary protection officer at NASA, January 19, 2018

Indiana University astrobiologist named planetary protection officer at NASA
Indiana University (, January 18, 2018

Is Elon Musk even allowed to send his car to deep space?
The Verge, December 9, 2017

How NASA’s Search for Aliens Helped Detect Breast Cancer
Daily Beast, December 8, 2017

Scientists are trying to figure out which bacteria have colonized our space station
Popular Science, December 5, 2017

NASA’s Interplanetary War
Harvard Political Review, November 21, 2017

National Academy Committee on Planetary Protection for Martian Moons
SpacePolicyOnline, October 29, 2017

Dawn Spacecraft Will Remain at Dwarf Planet Ceres Until It Runs Out of Fuel, October 24, 2017

Send Your Name to Mars Aboard NASA’s InSight Lander!, October 10, 2017

NASA Spacecraft OSIRIS-REx to Slingshot Around Earth on Its Way to Asteroid Bennu
Newsweek, September 22, 2017

Cassini, NASA’s 13-year Saturn mission, has ended
CNN, September 15, 2017

Debate Heats Up Over the Search for Life on Mars
NBC News, September 11, 2017

NASA studies mission to return samples from Mars by end of 2020s
Spaceflight Now, August 28, 2017

NASA Debates How to Retrieve Rocks from Mars
Scientific American, August 16, 2017

Water ice found near Mars’s equator could entice colonists and life-seekers, August 16, 2017

Why NASA is sending bacteria into the sky on balloons during the eclipse
The Verge, August 15, 2017

Cassini skims Saturn’s atmosphere
BBC News, August 14, 2017

Why Kill Cassini? Saturn Probe’s Fate Carefully Considered, July 17, 2017

Space-Bound Humans Bring Fungus Aboard—And the Stowaways Could Cause Trouble, July 12, 2017

Mars covered in toxic chemicals that can wipe out living organisms, tests reveal
The Guardian, July 6, 2017

Spacecraft Clean Rooms Have Some Dirty Little Secrets, July 5, 2017

Dawn mission managers await NASA decision on spacecraft’s future, June 17, 2017

Chairman Babin Opening Statement: Markup of H.R. 2809, American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017, June 8, 2017

The Search for Life on Mars Is about to Get Weird
Scientific American, May 9, 2017

NASA Approves Instruments for ESA’s ‘JUICE’ Mission to Jupiter System
NASA, April 14, 2017

Cassini Spacecraft Delivers Biggest Revelation Yet: A Moon of Saturn Is Habitable
Newsweek, April 13, 2017

Cassini’s Final Mission to Annihilation Starts April 22
Universe Today, April 5, 2017

New Horizons Spacecraft Reaches A Milestone As It Travels Half A Distance To Pluto
Science World Report, April 5, 2017
Popular Mechanics, March 31, 2017

Why a Mars Dirt Sample Probably Wouldn’t be Sent to the Space Station, March 31, 2017

Stunning images of Jupiter from NASA Juno mission
CNBC, March 28, 2017

Juno Spacecraft Skims Jupiter’s Cloud Tops in Its 5th Flyby, March 27, 2017

‘Life’ is an alien horror movie that riffs on some eerily plausible science
Business Insider, March 24, 2017

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx halfway to gravity assist
Florida Today, March 24, 2017

Natl Acad Cmte on Planetary Protection Policy, Mar 2017, DC
Space Policy Online, March 7, 2017

How to protect Europa from earthlings
Science, February 18, 2017

Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years
ScienceNews, February 18, 2017

The $2.4-billion plan to steal a rock from Mars
Nature, January, 18, 2017

‘Exactly Perfect’! NASA Hails Asteroid Sample-Return Mission’s Launch, September 9, 2016

NASA launching spacecraft to intercept asteroid
CNN, September 8, 2016

NASA Aims at an Asteroid Holding Clues to the Solar System’s Roots
The New York Times, September 5, 2016

Philae Lander’s Grave on Comet Found at Last After Nearly 2-Year Search, September 5, 2016

The Mission to Explore the Core of Mars is Back On
Popular Mechanics, September 2, 2016

Planetary Protection: NASA’s Guide On How Not To Screw Up The Universe
Science World Report, August 30, 2016

Let’s Not Screw Up Mars When We Get There
Inverse, August 29, 2016

Juno flyby: NASA flies spacecraft closest ever to Jupiter
Digital Journal, August 29, 2016

How NASA makes sure we don’t contaminate the Solar System
The Verge, August 27, 2016

Moon Express becomes first private company to get US approval for lunar mission
The Verge, August 3, 2016

SpaceX estimated to spend $300 million on Red Dragon mission
Space News, July 27, 2016

Forty years of missions to Mars
The Guardian, July 23, 2016

NASA’s Viking data lives on, inspires 40 years later
Aerotech News, July 20, 2016

New Horizons Space Probe Gets Mission Extension
Voice of America, July 5, 2016

NASA will purposefully destroy its $1 billion Jupiter spacecraft just in case aliens exist
Tech Insider, July 5, 2016

Juno probe enters into orbit around Jupiter
BBC News, July 5, 2016

How Often Does Life Emerge in the Universe?
Gizmodo, July 4, 2016

NASA Announces Extension of 9 Spacecraft Missions
The New York Times, July 2, 2016

NASA’s Dawn Probe Ends Primary Mission, May Visit 3rd Cosmic Object, July 1, 2016

Juno set to arrive at Jupiter on July 4, a patriotic coincidence
Fox News, July 1, 2016

NASA to Send Curiosity Rover to Find Water on Mars?
Nature World News, June 26, 2016

Curiosity May Try to Sample the Water on Mars
Popular Mechanics, June 24, 2016

A Subsurface Ocean On Pluto: The Dwarf Planet Continues To Surprise With Latest New Horizons Finding
International Business Times, June 22, 2016

SpaceX takes planetary protection seriously
The Washington Post, June 16, 2016

Before we colonize Mars, let’s do more biocontainment research
The Washington Post, June 13, 2016

White House works out a process to clear commercial missions to moon and Mars
Geek Wire, June 6, 2016

U.S. Set to Approve Moon Mission by Commercial Space Venture
The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2016


NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Is Prepping for an Extended Mission
Motherboard, May 21, 2016

Your Mouth Has Bacteria That Could Grow on Mars, Says a NASA Scientist
Inverse, May 18, 2016

Europe’s Mars Life-Detection Mission Postponed
Discovery, May 2, 2016

Moon Express asks FAA to review its plans for Google Lunar X Prize landing in 2017
GeekWire, April 8, 2016

Did the New Russia-Europe Mars Mission Narrowly Escape a Launch Disaster?
Popular Mechanics, March 22, 2016

Find Planet Nine! NASA’s Saturn Probe Helps with the Hunt, February 24, 2016

Universe Today, February 23, 2016

NASA Scientists, Engineers Receive Presidential Early Career Awards
PR Newswire, February 18, 2016

NASA to Decide Fate of Troubled Mars Lander Next Month, February 10, 2016

Why we need a planetary protection officer
Mother Nature Network, February 2, 2016

Robotic Comet Lander Philae Says Good-Bye
Scientific American, February 1, 2016

Is there life on Mars? It’s not likely, say scientists, after four-year experiment in Earth’s coldest place
The Telegraph, January 20, 2016

NASA Releases Jaw-Dropping Close-up Photos of Ceres
January 13, 2016

European Mars probe arrives at launch site
Spaceflight Now, December 27, 2015

Updated: NASA delays Mars InSight mission
Science, December 22, 2015

When Elon Musk goes to Mars, he won’t be overly troubled by planetary protection
Ars Technica, December 17, 2015

Searching for Life at Enceladus
Air & Space Smithsonian, December 16, 2015

Where Will the 1st Astronauts on Mars Land?, November 17, 2015

Popular Science, November 17, 2015

Is ‘Protecting’ Mars from Contamination a Half-Baked Idea?
Scientific American, November 6, 2015

Is It Moral To Explore, And Colonize, Mars?
NPR, November 3, 2015

House committee holds upbeat hearing on NASA’s astrobiology program
Physics Today, October 9, 2015

Meet the Martians
The New Yorker, October 8, 2015

Mars Is Pretty Clean. Her Job at NASA Is to Keep It That Way.
The New York Times, October 5, 2015

Why NASA Didn’t Just Send Over A Rover To Look For Water On Mars
NPR, September 29, 2015

Searching for Life in Martian Water Will Be Very, Very Tricky
Scientific American, September 28, 2015

NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars
NASA, September 28, 2015

Mars’ Mysterious Dark Streaks Spur Exploration Debate, September 23, 2015

NAS Report: Review of the MEPAG Report on Mars Special Regions, September 21, 2015

NASA Concerned With Earth Bacteria Infecting Mars on 2020 Mission, August 27, 2015

Earth Germs on Spacecraft: A Push for New Protections, August 26, 2015

Cameras Delivered for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission as Launch Prep Continues
PR Newswire, August 24, 2015

Where Will NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover Land?, August 20, 2015

Mind-blowing Pluto has ice mountains and water
CNN, July 16, 2015

Celebrations as Nasa’s New Horizons probe makes Pluto flyby – video, July 14, 2015

Why Scientists Have Been Scared of Space Germs for Almost 50 Years, June 22, 2015

Everything We’ve Learned from 50 Years of (Deliberate) Spaceship Crashes, May 5, 2015

NASA’s Messenger Probe Hits Mercury After a Smashing Mission, April 30, 2015

MESSENGER Comes To a Crashing End on Thursday, April 24, 2015

NASA’s New Horizons nears historic encounter with Pluto, April 17, 2015

NASA’s Dawn Probe Sees Dwarf Planet Ceres as a Crescent, April 17, 2015

Before Messenger crashes on Mercury, NASA bids spacecraft farewell, April 16, 2015

Briny Water May Challenge Future Mars Spacecraft Design, April 15, 2015

Report on Contamination Considerations for Mars 2020, April 15, 2015

Rise and shine: Rosetta’s Philae probe could be awake within weeks, April 14, 2015

Curiosity finds evidence of a daily water cycle on Mars
ArsTechnica, April 14, 2015

The Last Days of MESSENGER, April 12, 2015

Workshop on Planetary Protection Knowledge Gaps for Human Extraterrestrial Missions (Reverse Contamination), April 8

OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sampler Enters Final Assembly, April 1, 2015

Planetary Protection Workshop (Forward Contamination), March 27

Workshop on Planetary Protection Knowledge Gaps for Human Extraterrestrial Missions (Intro), March 25, 2015

NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Is Finally In Orbit Around Ceres, March 6, 2015

NASA Picks Prime Target for 2016 InSight Mars Lander, March 4, 2015

NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover To Dig-and-Ditch Its Samples – See more at:, February 27, 2015

How can we protect Mars from Earth while searching for life?, February 3, 2015

NASA budget proposal to initiate Europa mission plan, February 2, 2015


NASA’s Next Mars Lander Enters Final Assembly Stage, December 10, 2014


Hayabusa 2 launches on audacious asteroid adventure, December 3, 2014

Delaying Death: Mercury Spacecraft Firing Engines To Stay Up Until 2015, November 28, 2014

Philae Spacecraft Landed 3 Times on Speeding Comet: See Its First Photos, November 13, 2014

Elated scientists show off latest pics from historic Rosetta comet mission, November 13, 2014

Philae lander successfully touches down on comet in historic cosmic achievement, November 12, 2014

MAVEN uses special radio to relay data from Curiosity Mars rover, November 10, 2014

Mars rover Curiosity finds first mineral match: Oxidation in sample suggests energy source for microbes, November 7, 2014

To Europa! Mission to Jupiter’s Moon Gains Support in Congress, November 5, 2014

Ebola Outbreak May Hold Lessons for Handling Samples from Mars, October 30, 2014

Mars spacecraft moved as comet nears red planet, October 17, 2014

What if, October 2014

ESA’s Rosetta Mission sets November 12th as the Landing Date for Philae, September 27, 2014

MAVEN spacecraft and Indian orbiter deliver first images of Mars
LA Times, September 25, 2014

Mangalyaan enters Maritan Orbit: Narendra Modi says we have achieved the near impossible, September 24, 2014

NASA’s Maven Spacecraft Enters Mars Orbit
Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2014

NASA’s MESSENGER Spacecraft Headed For Mercury Impact
Forbes, September 22, 2014

Microbes thrive below Antarctic ice. A hint of life elsewhere in solar system?
Christian Science Monitor, August 20, 2014

Curiosity Reverses Back from Martian Valley of Slippery Sand and Finds Fourth Rock Drilling Candidate at ‘Bonanza King’, August 16, 2014

NASA’s Stardust Probe May Have Nabbed Dust From Interstellar Space
Huffington Post, August 14, 2014

Rosetta probe poised to touch and taste a comet
New Scientist, August 14, 2014

Europe’s Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Historic Arrival at Comet, August 6, 2014

NASA Announces Mars 2020 Rover Payload
Space Coast Daily, August 4, 2014

NASA’s Rosetta…Preparations To Parallel Park Alongside A Comet…First Communications To Earth…
Satnews, June 11, 2014

Extreme checklist to look for odd life on other worlds
New Scientist, June 9, 2014

Kate Becker: Testing the limits of survival in space
Daily Camera, May 15, 2014

Why Earth’s Spores Could Survive A Trip to Mars, May 12, 2014

NASA Research: Microbes from Earth Could Invade Mars Before Humans
Latin Post, May 3, 2014

RIP LADEE: NASA Moon Probe Crashes Into Lunar Surface, April 18, 2014

NASA’s LADEE lunar explorer crashes into moon, as planned
CBS News, April 18, 2014

Icebreaking Mars
Astrobiology Magazine, April 17, 2014

Mars Orbiter Spacecraft Crosses Half Way Mark of its Journey
Indian Space Research Organization press release, April 9, 2014

100 Days of MOM – India’s 1st Mars Mission Streaking to Red Planet Rendezvous, Feb. 16, 2014

China’s Yutu Moon Rover Alive and Awake for 3rd Lunar Day of Exploration despite Malfunction, Feb. 13, 2014

Science Instruments Perfect as NASA’s MAVEN Orbiter Speeds to Red Planet, Feb. 11, 2014

Water could be flowing on Mars now, Feb. 10, 2014

NASA Extends LADEE Dust Explorer for Bonus Lunar Science, Feb. 4, 2014

Planetary Protection: Preventing Microbial Hitchhiking
Astrobiology Web, Jan. 24, 2014

Jupiter Moon Europa May Have Water Geysers Taller Than Everest, Dec. 12, 2013

China’s lunar probe to land on moon next month, Nov. 26, 2013

MAVEN On Way to Mars After Flawless Launch
Discovery News, November 18, 2013

Photos and Video of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, proceeding toward October 28 launch, Sep. 9, 2013

Watch the Launch of LADEE With Bill Nye, Aug. 23, 2013

NASA Moon Dust Probe Ready to Launch from Virginia Coast, Aug. 23, 2013

NASA’s new mission to study what makes the moon glow, Aug. 20, 2013

Appropriate protection of Mars
Nature Geosciences, 6, 587–588 (2013) [Published online July, 30 2013]

She Protects Planets, July, 23, 2013

A Good, Clean Hunt for life on Mars
The New Yorker July, 10, 2013

Objective of 2020 mission to Mars: Signs of life, NASA says
CNN, July 10, 2013

Science Team Outlines Goals for NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover
JPL, July 9, 2013

Is NASA Being Too Protective of Mars?
IEEE Spectrum, July 8, 2013

Antarctic Lake Vostok ‘might have fish’
BBC, July 8, 2013

Antarctic Lake Vostok buried under two miles of ice found to teem with life
The Telegraph, July 6, 2013

Study: Asteroids Provide Sustainable Resource, June 13, 2013

Cold-Loving Bacteria Offer Clues for Life on Mars, May 23, 2013

Private Mars colony won’t seek life on Red Planet, April 23, 2013

Life on Mars? Finding It May Require Humans on Red Planet, April 23, 2013

Planetary Protection: A Work in Progress, April 11, 2013

Russian scientist defends Lake Vostok life claims, March 12, 2013

Microbes survive a mixed bag of Mars biocidals
NASA Astrobiology, March 7, 2013

Life found deep under Antarctic ice for first time
National Geographic, Feb. 5, 2013

Microbes – possible hitchhikers to space?
Nanowerk, Jan. 31, 2013

Success! NASA’s GRAIL Probes Crash into the Moon
Discovery News, Dec. 17, 2012

Tune in here as NASA’s GRAIL spacecraft crash into the moon
LA Times, December 17, 2012

New age of exploration in the hunt for extreme life
BBC News, December 4, 2012

The Mercury plummets! Nasa probe reveals planet closest to the sun has ice and frozen organic materials at its north pole
Daily Mail, November 29, 2012

Manned Mars Missions Could Threaten Red Planet Life, October 24, 2012

Genome hunters go after martian DNA, October 18, 2012

If the Mars rover finds water, it could be H2 … uh oh!
LA Times, September 9, 2012

Steve Martin (the comedian) tweets about planetary protection!

Experimental Modeling of Sterilization Effects for Atmospheric Entry Heating on Microorganisms
NASA Tech Briefs, August 1, 2012

Employing a Grinding Technology to Assess the Microbial Density for Encapsulated Organisms
NASA Tech Briefs, July 1, 2012

Phobos-Grunt: Failed probe falls over Pacific’
BBC News Jan. 15, 2012

Don’t send bugs to Mars (Phobos-Grunt & Planetary Protection)
New Scientist Dec. 28, 2010

When biospheres collide: a history of NASA’s planetary protection programs
NASA E-Book, 2010

Nasa’s Grail twins to make gravity maps
BBC News, September 10, 2011

NASA’s Juno spacecraft heads to Jupiter with solar power
Energy Harvesting Journal, August 31, 2011

Mars Science Laboratory: engineers, scientists tackle challenges, June 7, 2006

Planetary protection study group mulls life on Venus, February 21, 2006

Earth life could invade Mars on contaminated craft
NewScientist, July 28, 2005

Martian life might threaten human mission
New Scientist, June 20, 2005

Earth microbes may survive on Mars
New Scientist, June 2, 2005

Planetary uncertainty principle
Astrobiology Magazine, June 21, 2004

Not on my planet: real-life man in black thwarts alien invaders
Stanford Magazine, May/June 2004

A galactic warrior, with hypothetical enemies
University of Missouri, April 24, 2004

Your planetary protection officer; what on Earth does he do?, April 20, 2004

Life on Mars – but ‘we sent it’
New Scientist, March 25, 2004

Crabs in space
New Scientist, March 13, 2004
(registration required to access full text)

Cleaning up after Martian exploration
The Space Review, August 2003

Alien infection
Astrobiology Magazine, August 2003

Japan’s Nozomi Mars probe stirs contamination qualms, July 3, 2003

Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft undergo biological testing and cleaning prior to June launches
NASA News, May 23, 2003

Planetary protection: an integral part of mission preparations, May 1, 2003

Profiles: Space Man
Red Herring, August 2002
(subscription required)

Law, ethics, and extra-terrestrial life
Space Daily, October 1, 2001

Martian microbes
ABC [Australian Broadcast System] News, September 20, 2001

The stowaways
Nature Magazine, September 20, 2001
(registration required to search archive)

A job for our ‘planetary protection officer’
Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 2001

Mars attacks? Protecting Earth from off-world infections, April 4, 2001

Interstellar invaders: protecting the Earth, September 11, 2000

Scientists try to avoid germ scare on Jupiter moon, June 20, 2000

Sample return missions scare some researchers, April 9, 2000

Defender of the planet
New Scientist, September 18, 1999

Bring ‘em back alive – or at least carefully: planetary protection provisions for solar system exploration missions
Ad Astra Magazine, 1999