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COSPAR: A probabilistic approach to planetary protection

COSPAR: A probabilistic approach to planetary protection


UK Space Agency


Value to Coventry University: £24,401

Total value: £1.04 million 


Prof Jonathan Carter


8 June 2023 to 31 March 2025

Project overview

This project offers an opportunity to update the international COSPAR Policy on Planetary Protection and will develop international leadership in planetary protection. The proposed probability approach, using Bayesian statistics, offers an opportunity to define a transparent and responsible process that advances planetary protection standards and practices to enable future missions.

Project objectives

To address the knowledge gaps and the constraints of the mathematical models needed to update and modernise the guidelines.

It will also aim to influence COSPAR international policy on planetary protection, which will continue to review this approach as a plausible alternative to bioburden limits to enable the next generation of missions.

Impact statement

The outcomes will be a maximally robust and comprehensive statistical framework that can be used to produce a planetary protection method fit for the future.


Publications, policy updates and conference abstracts.

A high profile event will take place in London in spring 2024 funded by an extension to this project.

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University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023