To ensure that scientific investments in space exploration are not compromised by terrestrial contamination of celestial bodies, special care needs to be taken to preserve planetary conditions for future astrobiological exploration. Significant effort has been made and is being taken to address planetary protection in the context of inner Solar System exploration. In particular for missions to Mars, detailed internationally accepted guidelines have been established. For missions to the icy moons in the outer Solar System, Europa and Enceladus, the planetary protection requirements are so far based on a probabilistic approach and a conservative estimate of poorly known parameters. One objective of the European Commission-funded project, Planetary Protection of Outer Solar System, was to assess the existing planetary protection approach, to identify inherent knowledge gaps, and to recommend scientific investigations necessary to update the requirements for missions to the icy moons.
- Icy moons—Europa—Enceladus—Planetary protection—Requirements—Spacecraft.