Talk:Interplanetary contamination

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Merge proposal[edit]

Well, someone added a merge tag, but didn't bother with actually making a proposal on this talk page, so let me start it. If anyone reads this, just be bold, do the merge, instead of debating it, right? linas (talk) 02:05, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

More info to beef up the page?[edit]

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070907-nasa-bugs.html If anyone is good at expanding articles, this is some more info relevant to interplanetary contamination 24.192.101.162 (talk) 22:35, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

I have a lot of material suitable for this article. My research so far has been on contamination issues for Mars, but there is also lots written about other targets for instance Europa has an extensive discussion. I can add plenty of material on these topics.
As a basis I would use some of the material from this section User:Robertinventor/Colonization_of_Mars_-_concerns
There is a problem though. Warren Platts took on himself to remove all the material I wrote on contamination issues for Project Mars. There was no decision to topic ban me, he just undertook to do it himself. I believe it likely that he will also remove any contributions I add to this page too. He removes material that is not in support of the space colonization advocacy POV that contamination issues are no concern or easily contained, which he represents in his replacement text as the mainstream view.
Though he has been told that he shouldn't topic ban me without going through due process, this doesn't seem to stop him from removing my contributions, and for instance he has just removed a POV-section tag pointing to an open discussion, although the tag says clearly it shouldn't be removed until the discussion is closed. In the circumstances I am reasonably sure he will remove any contributions I make here. Robert Walker (talk) 07:49, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

NAC: This discussion should have been closed as no consensus months ago. A new merger proposal has been started. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:48, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I suggest Back-contamination be merged here. Both articles are stubs in need of citations. The term, "interplanetary contamination" is more general and should probably be preferred until the topic is greatly expanded. beefman (talk) 17:47, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

  • Weak support. (Edited after seeing RW's comments on Wikipedia Talk:WikiProject Mars). Both articles are stub status really, and poorly referenced. Merge them for now so one article can be the focus; can split them again later if appropriate. Agree on the naming. EDIT - I see that there is a difference between forward and back contamination, but this article seems to generally cover both as it stands. I remain presently in favour of merging with Back Contamination as a major subsection here, as I think there will be lots of repetition otherwise. I could be convinced otherwise after the expansion has happened though. (i.e., whoever does the expansion needs to choose, but if they choose to combine, they probably ought to add a "discussion to split" tag so we can return to this later!) DanHobley (talk) 05:13, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Forward-contamination already redirects to Interplanetary contamination. I propose the latter article contain sections on both. beefman (talk) 18:55, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The two types of issue are different.
In the case of back contamination the focus is on protecting Earth. The main topic for discussion is the construction and effectiveness of the receiving facility, of quarantine, the integrity of the container and the nature of the risk for the Earth.
In the case of forward contamination the main focus is on the impact of contamination on the science value of the target. There is almost no overlap between the two subjects.
I believe it would assist reader comprehension to keep them as separate. The two articles are short at present because they are stubs. The available source material on both is extensive. I have been proposed as a suitable editor to expand the articles on the talk page on Project Mars.Robert Walker (talk) 07:40, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Dan Hobley that this is a decision best made by the editor who does the expansion. It might be necessary to have more than the two articles. The source material on back contamination particularly is extensive, many technical studies to summarize, and IMHO after my experience on writing the article that got deleted from Project Mars, it might not be possible to summarize it all adequately in a single article without overwhelming the reader. Robert Walker (talk) 08:05, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Support merge of back-contamination here. As a summary article, there is no reason the stub cannot be covered within this article's scope (for the time being at least). VQuakr (talk) 01:54, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

*Oppose Wow. I actually agree with Robert Walker for once. Though for completely different reasons, of course. Just look at that Back-contamination article. It is a POV-laden mess. There is nothing in there worth merging--other than the mere definition of "back contamination". Back-contamination should be Deleted. Warren Platts (talk) 03:40, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

  • Merge away! I deleted the dross. That left about 3 mostly harmless sentences... Warren Platts (talk) 04:08, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment Warren's revision now has no mention of Mars and is only a brief historical section about the Moon sample return. This is the material I attempted to add to the article two days ago, now removed: Back contamination from Mars - Mars is of course considered by most to be the most likely origin for a restricted Category V sample return in the near future.
There is an open proposal on the page to restore this material, added just yesterday, Proposal to restore the content removed by VQuakr
Warren is attempting to bypass that discussion with a speedy merge / delete Robert Walker (talk) 09:25, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Merge Complete. I seconded beefman's motion to get on with the merge, since that seems to be the rough consensus. The question now is shall we merge /this/ article into Planetary protection (or vice versa). Warren Platts (talk) 14:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment The merge was also carried out at a time when material that I contributed to the page had been removed in the R stage of BRD and with an open discussion in the D stage about whether to restore it or not on the talk page. The editor who did the merge first reduced the content of the page to three sentences that only described the historical Moon quarantine program briefly, then did the merge, with this discussion to restore my material still open in the talk page. Robert Walker (talk) 12:35, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Merger proposal III[edit]

NAC: There has been no consensus for a year. Closing. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:51, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I just added the merge tag that this ought to be merged into the Planetary protection article somehow. There is a surfeit of stub articles on contamination. They should be deleted or merged into a single article IMHO. Planetary protection is the best of them IMHO. Cheers, Warren Platts (talk) 03:36, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose - The dust on this topic should be allowed to settle for a little while. Both articles can and should be improved prior to merging (which I would eventually support). beefman (talk) 23:41, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Hello, I fail to see the advantage of bringing both articles to higher quality only to merge them and start all over again. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk)
  • Indeed, no previous "improvement" is required for a merge of overlapping articles (WP:Merge). The merge itself is the improvement. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:53, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I doubt if there is much point in posting here. Apologies if I am no longer welcome in this discussion. Just wanted to say that there is a difference between the articles. The Planetary Protection one is devoted to policies used to protect the planets. It is also ranked as high importance and is well written and should be edited only with care. There isn't much on that page that needs to be changed.
Merging all these articles together as you have been doing is a bit like merging Smallpox with Smallpox vaccine, Vaccine and Vaccination Act to give a very rough analogy. Robert Walker (talk) 20:03, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
This article is about contamination. You can have contamination without protection indeed if you don't follow the planetary protection protocols that is what will happen. In my view it is a very different topic. The material on this page wouldn't belong on Planetary Protection in my view.
This current page is of course totally inadequate with hardly a mention of a vast literature on the subject but I know you don't want to hear me talk about that now, or any contributions by me to improve it. Robert Walker (talk) 00:00, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Have posted to the Planetary Protection talk page with proposed focus for the article. I think it is much more useful as a separate article clearly focused on the COSPAR guidelines and their interpretation which is plenty of material for a single artlcle. See here: Suggestion for focus of this article. It might also help you to see why I suggest they need to remain as separate articles.
There is a huge amount that could be included on this current article, extensive literature, papers, books, studies, the problem would be to condense it enough given that you would often be summarizing entire chapters or papers in a single sentence. The current version of the article gives no idea at all of how much there is no the subject, if it were permitted to write about it here. Robert Walker (talk) 22:08, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - Planetary protection includes protection from contamination. The material on contamination should be moved onto the protection page. Robert McClenon (talk) 00:50, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment Please note, WP is the editor who was responsible for removing all the content I wrote on back contamination and forward contamination for project Mars.
WP takes as his authority for removing all this material and for asserting my lack of competence on the subject, an AfD which was carried out with many irregularities and which had no discussion of the cited sources or comparisons of the material in the article with the sources cited by it. It just consisted of many highly emotive attacks on my competence and the bias of the article, with no actual substance given for any of them.
Talk:Back-contamination#Previous_AfD
There has been no topic ban and he has been warned that it is not appropriate to implement topic bans via talk page discussions.
In the material I wrote so far (now all deleted) I often had to summarize a paper or a chapter in a book in a single sentence or a few sentences at most, there is so much on it.
As you see below he and BI, respond with more insults, and it is the way he has got all the other editors on his side. They have both been offering OTT insults to me here in just about every post since 28th / 29th May Robert Walker (talk) 20:17, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: Walker, I can summarize your POV of the literature in 4 words: Mars, there be dragons.
You have managed to annoy even those trying to help you. Maybe it is time for you to step back and realize the futility of introducing your fringe campaign in Wikipedia. -BatteryIncluded (talk) 16:25, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree that Planetary protection is the proper page. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:06, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
WP, RW, and BI are all annoying me. At least RW has stopped whining about the non-existent topic ban. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:06, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment I'd like to point out I'm the only one posting here who seems to have read the source material. WP has simply reused a few of the citations I found and added his own POV slant to them, and several times has shown he can't have read the source material - recently when he challenged me about a statement that a Mars sample receiving facility has to combine clean room and biohazard technology requiring conflicting technologies, one with positive and one with negative air pressure. He accused me of lying when I said that. With just a few minutes of a google search you would find several official sources saying this and I conclude he hasn't done any independent research into the topic and hasn't thoroughly read the sources I provided myself..
To me merging Interplanetary contamination with Planetary protection is a bit like merging Rain with Umbrella. Planetary protection is about the legislation and other measures taken to protect the planets and though fairly short it is not too short for a wikipedia article, is high importance, well written and I think it is clearer as a separate article. If you come to wikipedia to find out about the Planetary Protection policies, you don't want to have to navigate through a long article about contamination issues to find them.
Also there is far too much material on the topics for a single article and in my view there needs to be at least three articles as back contamination and forward contamination have almost no overlap of content. One is about protecting Earth from contamination, and biohazards for Earth and its environment, and issues such as the receiving facility and whether quarantine is effective. The other is about protecting the science value of the planets and issues such as whether Earth life could propogate on another planet, and appropriate measures for sterilization of spacecraft. I suggest writing them as separate pages first, then check to see if there is a significant amount of overlap and if the articles are short enough to merge together.
The existing articles are stubs and there is a huge literature, many papers and studies and book chapters to be summarized into a single article, it would be quite a challenge to condense it all down to three articles without leaving out notable content. I have been prevented from expanding them to show this, and the merge of back-contamination was carried out while there was an open discussion in the D stage of BRD to restore my contribution to the page. WP reduced it to three sentences, leaving out all modern research since the 1970s, and with a totally inadequate summary of the 1970s research (itself a suitable topic for an entire historical wikipedia page on the topic by the amount of material and notability) before doing the merge.
I always thought that there was a place in wikipedia for anything sufficiently notable. Unlike a paper encyclopedia you don't have a total page count and the importance of a page is not judged by the number of words given to it. Many low importance articles here have many pages. If so the discussion should be about where to put this notable and extensive material, not about whether to include it at all. To leave it out amounts to a topic "ban" IMHO.
There is a particular POV, that of Zubrin, according to which contamination issues are of little concern and interest, and if you have that POV then it makes sense in a way to think that wikipedia doesn't need this information. But even in that case, by "writing for the enemy" surely you can acknowledge that the literature on this topic is vast. Zubrin's is a minority POV as extreme in its own way as the ICAMSR and shouldn't be used as a basis for a revisionist treatment of the sources in the official NASA and ESA sponsored reports, which surely must be the "mainstream view". If for some reason you consider those to be minority views as WP seems to do, yet due to the amount of the literature it needs extensive treatment here under some heading or other even if the decision is made it has to be labelled as minority view material. If it is indeed a minority view, it is one that has extensive treatment in notable publications sponsored by the top spaceflight organizations and is surely notable. Personally I don't see how the POVs of NASA, ESA and the Office of Planetary Protection can possibly be called a minority views and most definitely not a fringe POV. According to those POVs, contamination issues are extensive and deserve an extensive material here in wikipedia. Robert Walker (talk) 13:17, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. I have been letting some dust settle before coming to a conclusion on this, but I do support the merge. I recognise these topics aren't total symonyms, but when I think about what content is appropriate for each article, I conclude there would be almost total overlap. The current contents of the articles bear this out IMO. PP currently includes essentially all the info in PC, and none of it shouldn't be there. That said, given RM's posting of this into the RFCs (I think) yesterday, we should leave this open a bit longer. I would support expanding this article with subsections on forward and back contamination separately, were someone to write this appropriately. Let's let this article grow, and reconsider subdivision once it gets unwieldy. DanHobley (talk) 17:59, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment Now that I've had a chance to develop the Planetary Protection article properly, hopefully it is now clear why it needs to be separate from the other article. I have also done a bit of work on the other article, but more needs to be done on it, I think again enough to be reasonably clear why it needs to be a separate article. Robert Walker (talk) 21:12, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Removal of "sterile"[edit]

I agree that the removal of "sterile" was essential. Back-contamination is of a non-sterile planet, the Earth. Both articles should be merged into planetary protection. Once that is done, I will support RW's efforts to introduce more material on the risks of back-contamination. There is not a consensus that RW's material should be removed. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:57, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

Robert, sorry I can't follow your plan to add my material to "Planetary Protection".
I added the Catetory IV subdivisions for Mars to it, and that is the only thing of my research that I feel is appropriate there. It is high importance and a well written article and no way do I want to interfere with it. It is near perfection in my view.
Planetary protection is about the measures used to protect planets and rightly focuses on the COSPAR guidelines as its main content. Planetary contamination is about the contamination issues themselves - and are the reason the protection is required. They of course should cross link but should not be merged in my view.
I also don't feel I can contribute to this article either.
I have just had all my material I added to the back contamination article removed . The merge was carried out with an open topic for discussion to restore my material on the page, as the D phase of BRD. In the past few days I also had my POV-section tag removed from the MSR back contamination section with open discussion of the POV slant in progress on the talk page.
In my view it amounts to a revisionist treatment of the subject where only certain statements of the source material are permitted to be used and only a particular POV slant is permitted.
Everything else gets immediately removed without discussion and with bold edits, and can't be reinstated. That includes direct quotes from the sources. It doesn't matter how accurate or how carefully cited and checked, it just gets removed. It is not evaluated according to the standard of good scholarship.
I can't be a part of this revisionist rewrite, of anything, and especially, of a topic that is close to my heart. I can only support it if the main POV is clearly presented and dissenting POVs given appropriate treatment. I can't support it when a dissenting view is treated as the mainstream view and inaccurately attributed as a POV of the mainstream sources, as is the case right now. IRobert Walker (talk) 11:59, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Maybe I have misread the posts by Robert Walker, but it appears that he is arguing against merging this article with Planetary protection because he wants this article to be a POV Fork, a fork or split of an article to present a different POV than is presented in the parent article. I understand why he wants the "child" article preserved to present a different POV than the parent article, which is that he thinks that the parent article will be biased because it is being edited by WP and BI, who will delete material that is contrary to his POV. That is contrary to policy. Rather than having one article with one POV and another with the alternate POV is just not the way that Wikipedia works. I realize that RW thinks that his contributions will be deleted in toto by WP and BI, and that he doesn't want to fight them, but to create or defend a fork article. That isn't the way Wikipedia works. We need one article that is balanced, or if necessary two articles, both of which are balanced, not two articles to provide balance between two different points of view. I suggest that RW either agree to the merger (or acknowledge that the consensus will be to merge), and allow there to be one article, or that he expand the amount of coverage so that two balanced articles are needed. The arguments that two articles are needed to present two points of view is an argument for POV forking, and that is deprecated. Robert McClenon (talk) 01:58, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Sorry for the misunderstanding. I have never suggested a POV fork.
The Planetary protection is about the legislation and other measures to protect the planet. It is not that long but is easy to read and not so short that it has to be merged with another article. It needs no major editing right now, in my view either by myself or anyone else. It just needs minor updates, e.g. to update on the planetary protection policies as they are changed. I see no point at all in merging the material here with that page.
I do also think this current article is low quality and biased. It was your suggestion that I work on a separate article from WP as clearly we couldn't collaborate, because he would just revert any edit I attempt to make. I offered to write an article with a collaborator who is keen to work with me on this topic who has the opposite POV to me. But this offer has not been accepted.
In the circumstances I feel I can't contribute here at all on contamination issues, and have no plans to do so, unless the climate of opinion here changes in some way. Maybe a year from now there will be either new discoveries or some change or new people here and there may be more interest in including this material here.
Meanwhile, I accept that here in wikipedia then basically Zubrin's views on contamination prevail, and that as a result the contamination sections are going to be drastically trimmed as they are thought to be of no importance. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest, strongly, that contamination is not the same topic as protection against contamination and that the two articles should not be merged. Robert Walker (talk) 02:46, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Just realized what made you think of POV forks. My edit of Back-contamination could be thought of as an attempt as a POV fork. But I didn't mean it like that. It was meant as a basis for a new article that I would complete with my collaborator friend to correct bias later on. It would presumably also be the main article with the MSR section just a short summary of it.
It would be bound to create a different impression from WPs contributions since my friend though he has the opposite POV to me also feels that significant science and research should not be left out just because you don't personally agree with it. So since WP leaves out material which I would of course include it, any articles that cover the same topics would look rather different. That can't be helped. But it is not an intentional POV fork, and indeed it would present all the main POVs on back contamination. It is a field where there is considerable variation in view and Zubrin's views IMHO should be presented as an extreme view as extreme as the ICAMSR. It is one of the measures of bias of the existing content that his views are not singled out as extremist in the way the ICAMSR's views are. On this topic - on other topics he is not extremist, but on this topic he is. Robert Walker (talk) 03:22, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Merge completed[edit]

OK, since the rough consensus appears to be to merge this article into Planetary protection I made the effort to make it happen. I think it's a good improvement over both former articles. If there are any objections, make them now on the Planetary protection talk page, or forever hold your peace. Cheers, Warren Platts (talk) 14:27, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

An RFC was open as to whether to merge the articles. The purpose of the RFC was to request additional editors to obtain a consensus as to whether to merge. For an active participant in the merger debate to decide that consensus was achieved, without waiting for the RFC to attract consensus, was a violation of Wikipedia policy. Robert McClenon (talk) 16:33, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Huh? There is no "violation of Wikipedia policy". We've received comments from 5 people. 4 of them support the merger. Only Robert Walker opposes the merger, and as you are slowly finding out, no amount of reasoning will ever change his mind about anything. No other comments are evidently forthcoming. But if they did, they would most likely agree with the 80% majority here--as I'm sure you would agree. So what's the holdup?
The new and improved, merged article may be found here. If you don't think it's an improvement then feel free to write up a version yourself. But there's no point in dragging this thing out for the sake of dragging it out. We've all already spent way too much time on this FUBAR fiasco.... Warren Platts (talk) 17:34, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
It is natural for someone who writes on a notable topic with many sources to object when all the material is removed from wikipedia, and to continue to object as more and more of the material is removed. That's just refusing to be silenced, and exercising freedom of speech. Robert Walker (talk) 17:51, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Freedom of speech is not relevant to what's going on here, Robert. Wiki policy recognises this explicitly: WP:NOTFREESPEECH. We're not infringing your right to it, we're just trying to come to a consensus on what improves the wiki the most. I can understand your frustration, but try to see this impartially as well. DanHobley (talk) 18:08, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Agree with RM it's a bit too early to close this. The RFC specifically on this has not been up long, we should give it a bit longer to get traction. Consensus does seem to be hardening around the merge, however. I note WP has reverted his own merger. Thanks. DanHobley (talk) 18:04, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Started work on the article[edit]

I'm just at a "sketching it out" stage at present. Have loads of references I can use, but haven't put them in yet because not sure what the exact shape of the article should be.

But thought it worth making a start on it. Will return to this later after some thought.

The one big topic that should be included here is a discussion of human colonization and contamination issues that would arise from that, there is a fair amount published on it. But it needs careful and sensitive treatment because feelings on these issues run high. It needs to be approached with the right "angle" as it were to do it properly and not sure I can do that right now. More later. Robert Walker (talk) 16:04, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Had another go, felt I could write the human section now, so did it, I think it is okay and not controversial hopefully. There is lots of material available and many many sources on all this, once I am happy with the structure. So, assuming what I wrote is not reverted in an edit war, I can have a go at writing a citation backed up article in detail. There is much I could do by way of adding citations, filling out the sections in detail, and probably adding a few more sections as well. Robert Walker (talk) 16:35, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

If you have issues with the lack of citations, please just add {{cn}} tags. I plan to add citations but it is a lot of work to do that, and you can't do everything at once (and I have a lot on right now so don't have much time to work on this right now).

Hi Robert - just a friendly note to say, be careful with this article. That merge flag—and the pre-existing discussion suggesting a merge is likely based on how the article was before—means that work you put in here might end up getting lost or devalued if and when a merge occurs. You might be able to convince people the article should stand on its own by making changes, but of course you might not. So just bear that in mind as you put in effort.
You'll probably also want to place an "under construction" banner?DanHobley (talk) 16:54, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
Hi Dan - yes I know. I'm hopeful that I will be able to convince people especially now that Warren Platts has stopped contributing to wikipedia. The others in the debate in support of the merge were mainly people who don't contribute to astronomy articles. So, now that the fuss has died down, I expect they won't return to the debate, as they also most of them didn't seem either interested in the topic itself or knowledgeable about it. Robert McClenon encouraged me to try editing again and said he would take the case to arbitration again if similar behaviour happened again such as a merge without a sufficient discussion or final decision reached according to due wikipedia processes.
That encourages me to give it a go. But I haven't put too much work into this article yet. After a week or two I can put more work into it. Meanwhile will just add refs from time to time and improve it in minor ways. I expect eventually to create an article similar to the Planetary protection one in size and scope, and feel that is the best way to show that it deserves a separate article.
Robert McClenon did tell me to take care in my editing, which I have done, you can see his comments on my talk page. I will take a fresh look at this a week or so from now to make sure the tone is reasonably neutral, and once it is reasonably ready, check with my friend with views sympathetic to Robert Zubrin that it looks okay to him and invite him to edit it if he wants to. Robert Walker (talk) 09:21, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Section on legal issues of Mars sample return[edit]

I plan to add in a section on the legal principles, as any Mars sample return to Earth raises many complex legal issues much more so than most realize. Margaret Race went into this in detail in an article on the subject. M. S. Race Planetary Protection, Legal Ambiguity, and the Decision Making Process for Mars Sample Return Adv. Space Res. vol 18 no 1/2 pp (1/2)345-(1/2)350 1996

I would add in this section, which has some of the material that got deleted from my separate page on Mars sample return issues, the one that got removed in an AfD last year.

It is better written I hope, done some more work on it since then. I think it is by far the least likely to lead to controversy about whether to include it or not of all the material.

There are other sections that could also be added, but this is just summarizing a single paper, the only substantial paper I know of on the topic, an academic paper by one of the top researchers in the field of Planetary protection.

Legal process of approval for Mars sample return[edit]

Margaret Race has examined in detail the legal process of approval for a MSR.[5] She found that under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (which did not exist in the Apollo era) a formal environment impact statement is likely to be required, and public hearings during which all the issues would be aired openly. This process is likely to take up to several years to complete.

During this process, she found, the full range of worst accident scenarios, impact, and project alternatives would be played out in the public arena. Other agencies such as the Environment Protection Agency, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, etc, may also get involved in the decision making process.

The laws on quarantine will also need to be clarified as the regulations for the Apollo program were rescinded. In the Apollo era, NASA delayed announcement of its quarantine regulations until the day Apollo was launched, so bypassing the requirement for public debate - something that would be unlikely to be tolerated today.

It is also probable that the presidential directive NSC-25 will apply which requires a review of large scale alleged effects on the environment and is carried out subsequent to the other domestic reviews and through a long process, leads eventually to presidential approval of the launch.

Then apart from those domestic legal hurdles, there are numerous international regulations and treaties to be negotiated in the case of a Mars Sample Return, especially those relating to environmental protection and health. She concluded that the public of necessity has a significant role to play in the development of the policies governing Mars Sample Return.

Where I got it from and other material that could be added if thought useful[edit]

Just using the text from this section in my version of the deleted material over at science20.com. For more on this topic see

Mars Sample Return - Legal Issues and Need for International Public Debate - which I put into my science20.com column after it got deleted from wikipedia as is permitted by the Wikipedia license. See also Mars Sample Receiving Facility and sample containment

Both of these in my view are uncontroversial encyclopedic articles, summarizing material that is readily available and published in reputable sources on the topics - leaving the reader to make their own mind on the subject. I added them to my column as a useful reference for readers who want to go to the original literature on some of the topics I discuss in the column, since after deletion of the detailed article on Mars sample return issues, wikipedia no longer had any page on the topic that I felt was worth directing them to as a lead in to the rather large amount of literature on the subject.

None of the readers of my column have found them controversial. I think myself that all the material there is suitable for wikipedia - not so much my other articles on Mars sample return - but those two are pretty much just encyclopedic surveys of the literature I believe.

But don't worry. I will step carefully and for now just introduce this section on the legal issues and see how it goes - if there are no objections, then I could think about introducing more material as well, slowly, careful to proceed in an encyclopedic fashion. Robert Walker (talk) 21:22, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Orphaned references in Interplanetary contamination[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of Interplanetary contamination's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "Steigerwald":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 17:04, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

Removed merge tag[edit]

I just removed the merge tag as there has been no discussion for over a year. And I think reasonably clear that this material should be kept separate from "Planetary Protection". There's some overlap - but is common for wikipedia articles to have some overlap with each other.

Planetary contamination can go into details of the research done into ways that microbes could contaminate other planets and extra terrestrial life contaminate Earth. While Planetary Protection has as its main focus the legislation and practical measures to protect against contamination, and only needs a brief mention of the reasons for that protection.

Is best to keep the two separate I think, hopefully the new versions of the articles make this clear. Also, the editor who proposed the merge - and who then went ahead and did it himself - reversed his actions here as you see above - and has left wikipedia. Robert Walker (talk) 10:01, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Added merge tag back--as there is no need for 2 separate, redundant articles. Since there has been no further discussion, then we must conclude that the consensus is for a merge. "Planetary protection" is the place for content on human-caused biological contamination. Strictly speaking "interplanetary contamination" is a natural process that's happened for billions of years--which this article isn't even about. Also, above you write that "Planetary protection is about the legislation ... " yet you've added a long section on legal issues. This is redundant. If there's any useful, non-overlapping content here, that should be merged into to the Planetary protection article, and this one deleted with a redirect. I will be happy to do this.Warren Platts (talk) 10:54, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Okay - it was natural to assume that it was a lapsed discussion as there were no comments for over a year. Planetary protection is about the current legislation and methods used to protect the solar system. The legal section here is about future legislation. It was a judgement call whether it was better there than here, but I felt here was the better place for that section.
Do you think Manned mission to Mars should be merged with Colonization of Mars? Articles often have a fair bit of overlap - that doesn't mean you have to merge them.
You don't have authority to merge this article with planetary protection at this time, and I'll ask for Robert McLennon's support on this if you delete this article. It's not yet known if there has been any life transferred from Earth to Mars or vice versa - that's an unproved hypothesis which may or may not be true. Robert Walker (talk) 12:24, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
I disagree that Planetary protection is merely about legislation and methods. According to NASA, planetary protection is simply "the practice of protecting solar system bodies (i.e., planets, moons, comets, and asteroids) from contamination by Earth life, and protecting Earth from possible life forms that may be returned from other solar system bodies." Sounds a lot like "interplanetary contamination". It seems to me, the Interplanetary contamination article is merely a scary version of Planetary protection article, cf. top section on the so-called "vulnerability of the solar system"; as such it represents a POV fork.
Also, let me be clear: the only reason I reverted my earlier merge was people were complaining that I didn't give the RfD enough time. So I obliged and a year has now gone by. If one reviews earlier discussion, the rough consensus was that the article be merged, with the only holdout being yourself. Since then, of course you've expanded the article by about an order of magnitude. IMO, that in itself doesn't justify two separate articles, but if you want another request for comments, I won't object. Since it really is a different article than it was a year ago, I'll change the date of the merger proposal for today. Warren Platts (talk) 21:32, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Well don't you think "Manned mission to Mars" sounds a lot like "Colonization of Mars"? Just because they are closely related subjects doesn't mean they should be merged.
You could say, that Planetary Protection is about the methods used to protect the planets, and Interplanetary contamination is going into details of what the contamination is that we are protecting against. And it includes back contamination as well as forward contamination because both of those articles were deleted, so whole thing now is in one single article. I think myself there would be good justification for splitting this into two articles.
The reason I don't want to merge them is because I want to keep Planetary protection focused and easy to read.
The heart of the Planetary Protection article is its description of the system of categories, I to V, in detail, and the reason for those categories, subject of many workshops and papers over the last several decades. It is focused on those categories and on COSPAR and the OST and the current legislation as used right now and criticism of those laws, and suggestions for changes that are imminent in the immediate future.
With that already dealt with in PP, then you can take them for granted here and don't have to explain them again.
It's not a POV fork to discuss colonization in a separate article from human missions to Mars, I hope you agree? Similarly, it's not a POV fork to discuss Interplanetary contamination in a separate article from Planetary protection. It's just a different subject that's all.
As for the language, obviously the solar system is vulnerable to contamination - apart from Zubrin, everyone else is on the same page there. That's why you do the planetary protection. That's not "scary language" - it is just stating things as they are.
I will ask Robert McClennon what the proper way of proceeding is. As you know I don't think the two articles should be merged, and as you say it is a much more substantial article than it was before. Robert Walker (talk) 22:04, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
"Obviously the solar system is vulnerable to contamination", stated as if it were a known fact. This is what I'm talking about--everybody is NOT on that page; the truth, as far as we know, is that it is highly likely that the solar system is NOT vulnerable to contamination. Hence the POV fork.
Robert, it shouldn't be a big deal: just take the useful, non-overlapping content and move it over to the Planetary protection page. You can handle it sir. I'll help you edit it. Warren Platts (talk) 11:59, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
I've added new sections: "Direct evidence for liquid water in our solar system outside of Earth where life could reproduce" and "Dissenting views on vulnerability of the solar system" which hopefully answers your criticism. Robert Walker (talk) 18:18, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
You could take the useful non overlapping content from "Colonization of Mars" and move that over to "Manned mission to Mars" but I don't suggest we do that as they are best kept separate. Though the Planetary Protection article is not over long, it has several quite challenging topics to explain. These include, the five categories, the probability methods and the Sagan-Coleman equation, the methods currently used for bioburden reduction, historical background, several controversies, and suggestions to extend the protection period. I think it is far too much by way of conceptual overload to include all the material from this article as well on the same page, and the distinction is a natural one to make as natural as Manned Mission to Mars and Colonization of Mars. Robert Walker (talk) 18:30, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Issues arising from biological contamination[edit]

I just discovered the list of requests for references in this section. Will need to chase up some references to fix this. Have fixed the astrobionibbler one anyway - that was easy as it is referenced later in the article. More later Robert Walker (talk) 10:21, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Removed the bit about unverifiable speculation - can do with some improvement still - and can surely find plenty more citations for it - lot's written about all this - but I've cited just about everything. Robert Walker (talk) 23:40, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Cited everything listed as needing citations so removed refimprove tag[edit]

Done at least one cite for each instance of the inbody requests. Are a few sentences in the page still that don't have citations to back them up. But don't see any obvious errors there, just material that is missing citations, and most of it easy to find stuff. Will add them, takes time, will do them soon. Robert Walker (talk) 11:06, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Removed Venera 9 sentence[edit]

Removed sentence saying

  • Venera 9 - USSR mission to Venus that may have been partially contaminated prior to launch.

That's because I don't understand it, and there is no citation to back it up. Venera 9 landed on the surface of Venus and AFAIK, there were no planetary protection measures required and there was not considered to be any risk of it contaminating Venus. After all the Venus surface is category I for Cospar (Venus as a whole, Category 2 for NASA, see Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus Missions -- Letter Report ( 2006 ) ). Please correct if I've misunderstood something!

Thanks, Robert Walker (talk) 01:16, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Trimmed from article - Apollo, Surveyer, Galileo[edit]

Just not sure where these belong in the article - mixture of different things, not sure what the common thread is.

So removed them from now, added a paragraph linking to Planetary protection which goes into these things also to some extent. May put some of this back in the article but not sure where or how exactly.

I mean - should we list all the measures taken to prevent contamination of the solar system by spacecraft in individual missions? And all the places in the solar system where some measure of contamination by Earth life may be possible? That would be a long list by now. And if not, what selection criteria?

  • the Galileo one is an example of prevention of contamination
  • the Apollo example is an example of forward contamination but of a Category II destination so not considered that it matters
  • the Surveyor 3 is an example that may show that there are life forms on our spacecraft on the Moon. Seems likely that there are anyway - but this particular observation doesn't give good confirmation because of the possibility of later contamination.

And in any case certainly will be some dormant life left from the Apollo astronauts visits to the Moon.

So - maybe should have something on all this - just not sure where, or how, and how to structure it, or how it relates to the other material. Any thoughts do say!

If no-one has any thoughts on this, I'll come back to this article again and see if a fresh look at it a bit later helps. Robert Walker (talk) 01:33, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

<start of removed material>

Galileo spacecraft[edit]

Apollo missions[edit]

All of the manned Apollo missions that landed on the Moon (11, 12, & 14-17) leave open the possibility of the contamination of the lunar surface by the astronauts when they exited the lunar module.

Surveyor 3[edit]

The Surveyor 3 Moon probe, launched by NASA, may have had a camera lens contaminated by Streptococcus mitis before launch. This was discovered when the camera was returned to Earth by the Apollo 12 mission; however, the time of the contamination is inconclusive and may have occurred after the camera was returned to Earth.[2]


  • Surveyor 3 - It is claimed that a common type of bacteria, Streptococcus mitis, accidentally contaminated the Surveyor's camera prior to launch, and that the bacteria survived two years until discovered by Apollo 12.

<end of removed material>

Merger proposal protocol[edit]

There has been another proposal to merge articles. This proposal is to merge planetary protection into interplanetary contamination. I will be closing the two very old merger proposals. This discussion will be kept open for 30 days unless there is obvious consensus. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:35, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Do not remove merger tags until the merger discussion is completed.

Discuss in the section below on this page. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:35, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Also, do not merge or attempt to merge the articles until the discussion has been completed. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:52, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Merger[edit]

Should planetary protection be merged into interplanetary contamination?

Survey[edit]

  • Oppose merger. Not necessary. The two articles overlap, which is permitted, but each article has a substantial amount of its own content. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:35, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose merger. As Robert McClenon said. Also, though the Planetary protection article is not over long, it has several challenging topics to explain. These include, the five categories, the probability methods and the Sagan-Coleman equation, the methods currently used for bioburden reduction, historical background, several controversies, and suggestions to extend the protection period. I think it is too much by way of conceptual overload to include the material from this article on the same page. Also, the distinction is a natural one to make - as natural as the distinction between Manned mission to Mars and Colonization of Mars, Robert Walker (talk) 18:26, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Support merger. The supposed contrast between "Interplanetary contamination" and "Planetary protection" is a distinction without a difference. As the Wikipedia article says, this logical fallacy tends to be employed "when a word or phrase has connotations associated with it that one party to an argument prefers to avoid." In this case, the connotation to be avoided is that "Planetary protection" is consistent with the crewed exploration of Planet Mars--cf. the title of the first section "Vulnerability of the Solar System to contamination by life"--as if life itself is nasty and bad. As such, Interplanetary contamination represents a POV-fork. It is Walker's pet hobby-horse. That is the issue--not content overlap, nor amounts of own content. As McClenon himself said in the previous discussion: "Planetary protection includes protection from contamination. The material on contamination should be moved onto the protection page." Also, the NASA definition of "planetary protection" is "the practice of protecting solar system bodies (i.e., planets, moons, comets, and asteroids) from contamination by Earth life, and protecting Earth from possible life forms that may be returned from other solar system bodies." Whatever content on the science of contamination can be incorporated into the planetary protection article. Walker above states that "The Planetary protection is about the legislation and other measures to protect the planet" whereas "Interplanetary contamination is about the contamination issues themselves"; but this is disingenuous: there are more words expended on methods and techniques of planetary protection in the "Interplanetary contamination" article than there is in the "Planetary protection" article! Note as well that, strictly speaking, panspermia is "interplanetary contamination"--yet that is not what this article is about: it's about planetary protection. Bottom line: it's a POV-fork; whatever useful, non-overlapping content should be merged into Planetary protection.Warren Platts (talk) 11:30, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Threaded Discussion[edit]

I disagree with the need to merge articles. Articles may overlap if they have substantial amounts of their own content. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:35, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

@ Mr. McClenon: I have a question for you: Why have you changed your mind? A year ago you argued that the articles be merged: What has substantively changed??? Warren Platts (talk) 21:15, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
@ Mr. Walker: your Mars colonization/Manned mission to Mars analogy does not hold water: "Colonization of Mars" is about long-term permanent human presence on Mars, whereas "Manned mission to Mars" is about trying to get that very first mission there successfully. They are two different animals, although there is some overlap--e.g., Mars One proposal to stay permanently from the very first mission.
In this case, the contrast between "Interplanetary contamination" vs. "Planetary protection"--ESPECIALLY as these articles are currently written--is more like the difference between National Socialism vs. Nazism. To be sure, there is a vigorous debate about what they should call that article. "National socialism" sounds a lot more innocuous than "Nazism", so the Stormfront volks naturally would prefer the article be called "National socialism". That is the debate we should be having: What shall we call the title of the single article that covers this stuff: "Planetary protection" or "Interplanetary contamination"?
See? The content is the same, but the connotations of the article title are different: "Planetary protection" connotes that the issues are in hand, well understood, and manageable. "Interplanetary contamination" connotes that astronauts returning from Planet Mars might unleash an Ebola-like epidemic that could cause the extinction of life on Planet Earth. Both articles are about how contamination happens, and how to prevent nasty consequences. So why are there two articles on the same subject? Well, the answer is that Robert Walker is a zealot when it comes to planetary protection issues, as evidenced by his several blog articles he's written outside of Wikipedia: he is deathly afraid that something superbad could happen to our bodily fluids if the exploration of the solar system is not strictly regulated. So there are two articles, where one has a scary slant, whereas the other one does not: this is called a POV-fork. Also, cf. WP:COMMONNAME. Yes, this is not definitive, but a Google search of "Planetary protection" yields 78,500 hits, whereas a search for "Interplanetary contamination" only yields 2,340--a factor of 33 difference. For the subject matter of these two articles, the more common name is "Planetary protection". There are no reliable sources that say that "Interplanetary contamination" is a notable subject in itself that is distinct from the province of Planetary protection. There should be one article IMHO. Warren Platts (talk) 21:05, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

ORIGINAL REPLY - copying it here as WP has broken it up with his replies to the extent that it is unreadable

Planetary Protection is based on the OST which refers to "harmful contamination" in the text of the treaty and the purpose of planetary protection is to protect vulnerable places in the solar system from forward and backward contamination.
I did not create either article or decide on the titles of either one. It's a natural distinction that others made before I started work on editing them.
It works well though. And there is too much to cover to put them all into one article without conceptual overload. That's like merging Umbrella with Cocktail umbrella
There is no POV slant. Both articles have as their main content summaries and quotes from the main official books and articles on the subjects by the NRC, by the European Space Foundation, the National Research Council, numerous COSPAR workshops, by Carl Sagan (founder of planetary protection in the 1970s) and many researchers since him in many academic disciplines. Both articles also include coverage of the controversies and different POVs on the subjects.
I have neither referred to any of my own articles on these topics or included any content from them here or expressed any personal views and have taken great care to edit these articles in a neutral and unbiased way. Use of the words "contamination" and "vulnerable" are not an indication of bias as the words are commonly used in this subject area.
Panspermia already has its own article, and Interplanetary contamination is a different topic. Panspermia is about natural transfer of life between the planets on meteorites, which may or may not have happened in the past. Interplanetary contamination is about life transferred in human launched spacecraft.
Planetary Protection I wish to keep tightly focused on the current policies for planetary protection, the five categories, their theoretical basis including the Sagan Coleman equation and such like. This article is focused more on the contamination itself. Let me summarize the two articles by heading so you can see how there is hardly any overlap between them:
Planetary protection: 1. history of OST and clarification of forward contamination. 2. The 5 categories. 3. Decisions made about classification of celestial objects into those categories. 4. Decontamination procedures 5. Issues with Bioburden detection and assessment 6. Impact prevention for orbital missions in category III and issues with those methods. 7. Containment and quarantine for sample return. 8. Various controversies.
Interplanetary contamination: 1. Vulnerability of solar system. (including dissenting views) 2. Direct evidence for water outside Earth where life could reproduce. 3. Issues that arise from biological contamination - and methods used to prevent them - this is one of only two sections with overlap with Planetary protection and links to it. 4. Human colonization challenges. 5. Use of Moon for test bed for interplanetary contamination issues. 6. Methods of exploration that avoid contamination issues. 7. Details of precautions suggested for a Mars sample return mainly based on the NRC and ESF reports. This again has some overlap but the section here is more extensive than the section in Planetary Protection including for instance the legal process for approval of a Mars sample return.
That was a judgement call. I felt it was more appropriate here at present, because it is about legislation that has not been enacted or even discussed or proposed yet. But would need to be enacted if there was a sample return. In the future if such legislation is enacted it would be appropriate to put it in Planetary Protection. It is not a POV fork, the difference is just in the level of detail of the treatment for the sections that do overlap.
As for google hits: originally there were four articles until spring last year: forward contamination, back contamination, Interplanetary contamination and Planetery protection, some of which were stub type articles. None were started by me so you can't attribute the choice of article titles to me.
"forward contamination" and "back contamination" are used much more often than "interplanetary contamination" in this context which may explain your low google hits. That is a natural separation also, since different considerations apply in the forward and in the backward direction.
But those articles were merged and redirected to this one. If we must have them all as a single article, then "Interplanetary contamination" is a reasonable choice, especially since it is called "harmful contamination" in the treaty text.
We could alternatively call this article "Cross-contamination of planets". That gets 12,000 google hits. (So does "forward contamination" and "back contamination" gets 15,000 hits).
Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Planetary Protection is based on the OST which refers to "harmful contamination" in the text of the treaty and the purpose of planetary protection is to protect vulnerable places in the solar system from forward and backward contamination.Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Agreed. Warren Platts (talk) 17:23, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I did not create either article or decide on the titles of either one. It's a natural distinction that others made before I started work on editing them.Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
It's not a natural distinction, as evidenced by the fact you cannot clearly explain what the difference is. Nor do you have any reliable sources that discuss this distinction. The fact that you did not start the article is irrelevant. Warren Platts (talk) 16:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
It works well though. And there is too much to cover to put them all into one article without conceptual overload. That's like merging Umbrella with Cocktail umbrellaRobert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
The "conceptual overload", as you put it, is due to the fact that both articles are overly long-winded, meandering, repetitive, unstructured, too many boxed quotations. This is not helped by having two articles on the same subject. IMO, the important content of both articles could be contained in a single, concise article that's half the size of either one of them in their current form. In any case, as you are fond of pointing out, there is no size limit to Wikipedia articles, so article size itself is not a consideration.
Your distinction between "Umbrella" and "Cocktail umbrella" is a straw man: it easy to explain what the difference is. A better example would be the difference be "National socialism" and "Nazism". It is difficult if not impossible explain the difference in the subject matter, although the connotations are are different: one is neutral sounding, the other is scary. Same for "Planetary protection" vs. "Interplanetary contamination", although in this case, the scary name is not the WP:COMMONNAMEWarren Platts (talk) 16:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
There is no POV slant. Both articles have as their main content summaries and quotes from the main official books and articles on the subjects by the NRC, by the European Space Foundation, the National Research Council, numerous COSPAR workshops, by Carl Sagan (founder of planetary protection in the 1970s) and many researchers since him in many academic disciplines. Both articles also include coverage of the controversies and different POVs on the subjects.Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
The POV slant is that the "Interplanetary contamination" article is heavily biased against crewed exploration of Mars. Indeed, there is no better evidence of a POV slant than your own vehement objections against the merger. If there is no POV-slant, then there should be no objection to the merger. The very fact that there are two articles is itself a POV-slant as it gives the entire (single) subject more prominence (than it deserves IMHO)--hence your complaints about there not being 4 articles on the same subject. Warren Platts (talk) 16:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I have neither referred to any of my own articles on these topics or included any content from them here or expressed any personal views and have taken great care to edit these articles in a neutral and unbiased way. Use of the words "contamination" and "vulnerable" are not an indication of bias as the words are commonly used in this subject area. Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Huh? This is a blatant, and no-doubt intentional, misrepresentation: there is a link to your Science20 article at the bottom of the "Interplanetary contamination", where you argue that crewed missions to Mars surface should be made illegal. Then you double-down on the editorializing by calling the article name in the Wiki link with the leading question "Can Humans Explore Mars To Standards Of Sterilized Rovers?", whereas the actual title of your article "Can Human Explorers Keep Mars Clean, For Science?". The bias in the article is quite transparent; you are not fooling anyone; the fact that you cannot see the bias for yourself is an indication you are too close to the subject matter.
I didn't know that link was there. It was added by an unsigned in wikipedian. Checking the ip address, they were located in Chile in South America. I frequently change names of my articles as do many people writing articles. Often change it several times in the first few days after publication. That is normal practice for journalism. None of that external section is by me. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Interplanetary_contamination&diff=565670785&oldid=565490223
Really, given your strong personal opinions on this subject matter, IMO you should voluntarily recuse yourself from editing these articles because of your conflict of interest, and leave the editing to people like me, who have no dog in this fight either way. Professionally, my main interest is lunar exploration, where supposedly there are no contamination issues.Warren Platts (talk) 16:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Panspermia already has its own article, and Interplanetary contamination is a different topic. Panspermia is about natural transfer of life between the planets on meteorites, which may or may not have happened in the past. Interplanetary contamination is about life transferred in human launched spacecraft. Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
See? It is easy to clearly explain the conceptual difference between those two subject matters: not so much for the difference between "Planetary protection" versus "Interplanetary contamination". Warren Platts (talk) 17:23, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Planetary Protection I wish to keep tightly focused on the current policies for planetary protection, the five categories, their theoretical basis including the Sagan Coleman equation and such like. This article is focused more on the contamination itself. Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
This is original research! YOU HAVE NO RELIABLE SOURCES that say that "Planetary protection" is more concerned with policy than the contamination itself! Warren Platts (talk) 16:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Let me summarize the two articles by heading so you can see how there is hardly any overlap between them:
Planetary protection: 1. history of OST and clarification of forward contamination. 2. The 5 categories. 3. Decisions made about classification of celestial objects into those categories. 4. Decontamination procedures 5. Issues with Bioburden detection and assessment 6. Impact prevention for orbital missions in category III and issues with those methods. 7. Containment and quarantine for sample return. 8. Various controversies.
Interplanetary contamination: 1. Vulnerability of solar system. (including dissenting views) 2. Direct evidence for water outside Earth where life could reproduce. 3. Issues that arise from biological contamination - and methods used to prevent them - this is one of only two sections with overlap with Planetary protection and links to it. 4. Human colonization challenges. 5. Use of Moon for test bed for interplanetary contamination issues. 6. Methods of exploration that avoid contamination issues. 7. Details of precautions suggested for a Mars sample return mainly based on the NRC and ESF reports. This again has some overlap but the section here is more extensive than the section in Planetary Protection including for instance the legal process for approval of a Mars sample return.Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
The overlap is tremendous. The interested person can attempt to wade through both articles and see for themselves. I will not attempt a point-by-point documentation of this not because it would be too tedious, but because the overlap per se is not the issue.
The issue, and the reason I added the merge tag is because there are no notable, reliable sources that say there is a conceptual difference between the subject matter of "Planetary protection" versus "Interplanetary contamination". NASA could have just as easily named the "Office of Planetary Protection" the "Office of Interplanetary Contamination"--and their mission would not change by one iota! Therefore, there can only be one plausible explanation for the existence of the separate article is that it represents a POV fork. That is the main reason for the merger.
Allow me to repeat the NASA definition of 'Planetary protection': "the practice of protecting solar system bodies (i.e., planets, moons, comets, and asteroids) from contamination by Earth life, and protecting Earth from possible life forms that may be returned from other solar system bodies."
Here is a reliable source--NASA--and they explicitly say that the subject matter of "Planetary protection" is, among other things, interplanetary contamination. The word "policy" is not mentioned. Meanwhile, "your" article on "Interplanetary contamination" that you say is only about contamination itself is in fact less about the science of contamination per se, and is instead loaded down with methods and policies of planetary protection! With special emphasis on alternatives to crewed exploration of Mars surface, recapitulating your original research you present in your Science20 article, of course... Warren Platts (talk) 16:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
That was a judgement call. I felt it was more appropriate here at present, because it is about legislation that has not been enacted or even discussed or proposed yet. But would need to be enacted if there was a sample return. In the future if such legislation is enacted it would be appropriate to put it in Planetary Protection. It is not a POV fork, the difference is just in the level of detail of the treatment for the sections that do overlap.
As for google hits: originally there were four articles until spring last year: forward contamination, back contamination, Interplanetary contamination and Planetery protection, some of which were stub type articles. None were started by me so you can't attribute the choice of article titles to me.
"forward contamination" and "back contamination" are used much more often than "interplanetary contamination" in this context which may explain your low google hits. That is a natural separation also, since different considerations apply in the forward and in the backward direction.
But those articles were merged and redirected to this one. If we must have them all as a single article, then "Interplanetary contamination" is a reasonable choice, especially since it is called "harmful contamination" in the treaty text.
We could alternatively call this article "Cross-contamination of planets". That gets 12,000 google hits. (So does "forward contamination" and "back contamination" gets 15,000 hits).
Robert Walker (talk) 23:07, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I am quite sure that you have read the Wikipedia policy on WP:COMMONNAME. If there is to be one article, the title should be "Planetary protection", with redirects from all these other names. I just did a google search myself: "Planetary protection" = 78,800; "Interplanetary contamination" = 2340; "Cross-contamination of planets" = 10,300 hits.
But google hits are not decisive. What decides the issue is what is the common name used in reliable sources. There can be no more reliable source than the NASA Office of Planetary Protection. They do not call themselves the "Office of Interplanetary Contamination", nor do they call themselves the "Office of Cross-Contamination of Planets", nor the "Office of Harmful Contamination".
It is not "reasonable" to choose an article name that is not the most common name. That is rather a disingenuous attempt to import your POV bias: I dare say you like "Interplanetary contamination" because it is scarier sounding than "Planetary protection"; which is of course the main goal: to spread FUD WRT to crewed exploration of Mars surface.
Bottom line: the possibilities for interplanetary contamination and the means to prevent this from happening are inextricably linked, and cannot be logically separated. This is evidenced by the fact that you find it impossible to write an article that is ostensibly about interplanetary contamination per se, where instead, the most content is about the means to prevent such contamination. Therefore, there should be one article that covers the single subject matter consisting of contamination and the means to prevent contamination. The common name for this single subject is "Planetary protection". The article on "Interplanetary contamination" needs to be deleted; any useful content in it should be merged with "Planetary protection", with a redirect from "Interplanetary contamination".Warren Platts (talk) 16:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. I'll review your comments more fully later. Meanwhile, a few things that arise immediately, first I was not aware of the science20 link which was added by an ip address in Chile. I have now removed it, see below. Contamination is used in the title of many papers and books on the subject - which you should be ale to find with those google searches. The article on Planetary Protection is indeed mainly focused on the office of Planetary Protection. And their day to day activities are mainly connected with making sure that our present day spacecraft are adequately sterilized according to the requirements of the regulations for Planetary Protection. The two articles are of course closely linked. However that is permitted in wikipedia so long as each has substantial amounts of their own content, which they do. I've already answered in detail why I think it is okay to have two articles. You've also argued the opposite case. Not sure if I have much more to add, but will look at this again later when I have more time and see if I've missed anything. Thanks! Robert Walker (talk) 10:45, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Cf. WP:MERGE: Number one reason for merging 2 pages: "Duplicate: There are two or more pages on exactly the same subject, with the same scope." Planetary protection and Interplanetary contamination are on exactly the same subject with the same scope. No need for two articles on the same subject.Warren Platts (talk) 17:42, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Removed External Links section[edit]

This section didn't seem to serve any useful purpose any more. It consisted of a number of links to articles, that cover content already covered more adequately as primary sources in the other citations. None of them were added to me; it's a legacy section from an old version of the article.

Two of them were behind a paywall.

One of them was an article I wrote myself from Science20, which I didn't know was there - it was added by an ip address in Chile in 2013.

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Interplanetary_contamination&diff=565670785&oldid=565490223

Robert Walker (talk) 23:11, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Hmm... Interesting that the link was added July 24, 2013--same day your Science20 article was published. Just a coincidence I'm sure....... Warren Platts (talk) 22:26, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
This is normal for a news story or Science20 article. That's when they appear in Google news search, Science20 feeds (e.g. reddit, twitter), and news feeds, and so forth. That's also when links are most often added to them. (Some of my most popular articles have peaked later, as they are featured on Science20 and taken up by high profile websites and weekly science news roundups, but that is rare). That particular article had over 6,500 visits. I expect most of those were in the first two days.
Please note anyone reading this - my edit to remove this section has been reverted by WP. I don't want to make a big deal about it, so will leave it in for now. Robert Walker (talk) 10:01, 12 September 2014 (UTC)