As all space-faring nations are also signatories to the Outer Space Treaty, drawn up by the United Nations and released in 1967, they shoulder a legal obligation to
'... conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter'.
Building on this broad obligation to 'avoid' contamination of celestial bodies, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) has taken on the role of co-ordinating the regulations that are applied to space missions. Table 14.2 summarizes the position of the COSPAR planetary protection group as of October 2002, with the core recommendations being made at the 25th COSPAR meeting (De Vin-cenzi and Stabekis, 1984) with sub-categories for Mars missions being developed by the Space Science Board (SSB) of the US National Research Council.
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