Planetary Protection Advisory Committee Charter

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2001








The NASA Administrator, having determined that it is in the public interest in connection with the performance of duties imposed on the Agency by law and with the concurrence of the General Services Administration, establishes the NASA Planetary Protection Advisory Committee (the "Committee") of the NASA Advisory Council (the "Council"), pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App §§ 1 et seq.


1. The Committee will advise the NASA Administrator through the NASA Advisory Council on Agency programs, policies, plans, and other matters pertinent to the Agency's responsibilities for biological planetary protection, as defined in NPD 8020.7, including NASA planetary protection policy documents and components, implementation plans, and organization. The Committee will provide a forum for advice on interagency coordination and intergovernmental planning related to planetary protection. The Committee will review and recommend appropriate planetary protection categorizations for all bodies of the solar system to which spacecraft will be sent. The scope of the Committee's responsibilities will not include issues that pertain solely to the quality and interpretation of scientific experiments and data.

2. The Committee will draw on the expertise of its members and other sources to provide advice and make recommendations to the Council. The Committee will hold meetings and make site visits necessary to meet its responsibilities. The Committee will review reports and recommendations of its subcommittees, panels, and/or task forces and include them, if adopted, in its reports to the NASA Advisory Council.

3. The Committee shall function solely as an advisory body and will comply fully with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.


1. Subject to the approval of the Associate Deputy Administrator, the Committee is authorized to establish subcommittees for particular aspects of planetary protection. Subcommittees will be established under Terms of Reference that are approved by the Associate Deputy Administrator. Subcommittees report their proposed findings and recommendations only to the full Committee for its consideration. Subcommittee durations will be 2 years, renewable subject to the review of the Associate Administrator, Office of Space Science, and the NASA Advisory Committee Management Officer.

2. Subject to the approval of the Associate Deputy Administrator, the Committee is authorized to establish temporary task forces for special studies. Task forces of the Committee will be established under Terms of Reference that are approved by the Associate Deputy Administrator. Task forces provide their reports only to the full Committee for its consideration. Task force durations will be specified in their Terms of Reference and are renewable only with the approval of the Associate Deputy Administrator.

3. Members of the Committee may organize themselves into panels of particular areas regarding planetary protection.


1. The Committee will consist of 15 to 20 members selected to ensure a balanced representation among industry, academia, and Government. The Committee members, collectively, should have the skills and capabilities to assess the issues and risks of forward and backward biological contamination for planetary missions and for biological contamination associated with the launch and return of spacecraft in interplanetary missions and their potential failure modes. At least four of the Committee members shall be persons knowledgeable in one or more of the fields of bioethics, law, public attitudes and the communication of science, the Earth’s environment, or related fields. One member shall be also a member of the Space Science Advisory Committee, and one shall be a member of the Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications Advisory Committee.

In addition to the above-designated members, nonvoting representatives shall be solicited from the following US Government agencies:

Department of Agriculture

Department of Energy

Department of Health and Human Services

–National Institutes of Health

–Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Department of Interior

Department of Transportation

Environmental Protection Agency

National Science Foundation

Executive Office of the President

Other Government representatives may be solicited in the future with the approval of the Associate Administrator for Space Science.

The Committee shall also invite the participation of nonvoting liaison representatives from other national and international organizations undertaking joint solar system exploration missions with NASA.

2. The Chair will be appointed by the Administrator. Members will be appointed by the Associate Administrator for Space Science with written concurrence of the Associate Deputy Administrator.

3. The Chair will be a member of the NASA Advisory Council.

4. Chairs of subcommittees and task forces usually will be members of the Committee; members of the subcommittees and task forces are associate members of the Committee and participate only in the work of the subcommittee or task force to which they have been appointed by the Associate Administrator for Space Science.

5. Members will be appointed for 3-year terms. At the discretion of the Associate Administrator for Space Science, members may be reappointed for a second 3-year term.

6. Members will be appointed as Special Government Employees and be subject to standards of ethical conduct for Special Government Employees of the Executive Branch.


1. The Committee will report to the NASA Advisory Council. The NASA Advisory Council will determine whether or not to formally forward committee recommendations to the NASA Administrator. The Administrator responds, for NASA, to those recommendations.

2. The Committee will meet two to three times a year. Meetings will be open to the public, except when the General Counsel and Advisory Committee Management Officer determine that the meeting or a portion of the meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act or that the meeting is not covered by the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Meetings of subcommittees, task forces, and panels will be held as required.

3. The Executive Secretary will be appointed by the Associate Administrator for Space Science and will serve as the Designated Federal Official.

4. The Office of Space Science will provide staff support for the Committee. The estimated annual operating cost totals approximately $115,000, including 0.35 workyears for staff support.

5. Members of the Committee will not be compensated for their services but will, upon request, be allowed travel and per diem expenses as authorized by 5 U.S.C. 5701 et seq.


The Committee shall terminate 2 years from the date of this charter unless earlier terminated or renewed by proper authority by appropriate action.


Signed/Daniel S. Goldin, NASA Administrator, February 13, 2001

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