ECSS Discipline U-20 Planetary Protection

ECSS Discipline U-20 Planetary Protection ECSS Discipline U-20 Planetary Protection
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    European Space Agency

  • Keywords

    Planetary Protection

  • Working language


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  • Updated on 2022-01-11 11:24:00

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The ECSS U20 discipline provides the technical, management, and procedural requirements for planetary protection in European space projects.

The legal basis for planetary protection was established in Article IX of the United Nations Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty). This leads to planetary protection rules based on 2 rationales:

The Earth must be protected from the potential hazard posed by extraterrestrial matter carried by a spacecraft returning from an interplanetary mission (backward planetary protection).

The conduct of scientific investigations of possible extraterrestrial life forms, precursors, and remnants must not be jeopardized (forward planetary protection).


The objective of the ECSS U-20 Planetary Protection course is to:

  • introduce to the audience the requirements for planetary protection applicable to ESA projects and the related compliance processes
  • understand the interactions between planetary protection and other engineering principles applied to ESA projects


Delphine Faye (CNES), Diana Margheritis (TAS), Petra Rettberg (DLR)