Interplanetary Contamination on Mars


  • Recently, astrobiologists have expressed concerns about possible ‘interplanetary contamination’ on Mars as ambitious space missions are proliferating the space along with advances in commercial flight.

Back to Basics

Interplanetary contamination

  • Biological contamination of a planetary body by a space probe or spacecraft, either deliberate or unintentional.
  • Mars Mission: Tianwen-1-China, Hope Al Amal-UAE, Perseverance-USA (NASA) & MOM-India
  • Forward Contamination means the transport of Earth-based microbes to other celestial bodies.
  • Back Contamination is the transfer of extraterrestrial organisms(if they exist) into the Earth’s biosphere.

Facts for Prelims

  • United Nations Outer Space Treaty of 1967 serves as a defence mechanism against the militarization of space. It prohibits weapons of mass destruction in outer space and not the ordinary weapons. India ratified it in 1982.
  • The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. As of June 2020, 110 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 23 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification.
  • It is mostly a non-armament treaty and offers insufficient and ambiguous regulations to newer space activities such as lunar and asteroid mining.
  • The Outer Space Treaty does not ban military activities within space, military space forces, or the weaponization of space, with the exception of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space.
  • It prohibits the placing of nuclear weapons in space, it limits the use of the Moon and all other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes only, and establishes that space shall be free for exploration and use by all nations, but that no nation may claim sovereignty of outer space or any celestial body. 
  • Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) is an international governmental forum for the worldwide coordination of activities related to the issues of man-made and natural debris in space.

Source: TH & Wikipedia

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