Legal aspects of planetary protection for Mars missions

  • Sterns P
  • Tennen L
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The planning and execution of manned and robotic missions to Mars present a wide range of jurisprudential issues. Provisions to prevent the disruption of natural celestial environments, as well as damage to the environment of Earth by the return of extraterrestrial materials, are important components of the law applicable to mankind's activities in outer space, and have been supplemented by scientifically instituted planetary protection policies. However, divergent legal regimes may exist, as the space treaties in force are neither uniform in their provisions, nor identical as to the states which have signed, ratified, or adopted the international agreements. The legal requirements applicable to a specific mission will vary depending on the entities conducting the program and specific mission profile. This article analyzes the divergent international legal regimes together with the factors which will influence the determination of the standards of conduct which will govern manned and robotic missions to Mars. © 1994.

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  • P. M. Sterns

  • L. I. Tennen

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