Abstract In the context of extraterrestrial exploration missions and since the beginning of solar system exploration, it is required, according to the article IX of the Outer Space Treaty (London/Washington January 27, 1967) to preserve planets and the Earth from cross contamination. Consequently, COSPAR (Committee of Space Research) has established some planetary protection recommendations in order to protect the environments of other worlds from biological contamination by terrestrial microorganisms, to protect exobiological science for searching for life on planets, and to protect the Earth's environment from back contamination. For the upcoming Mars exploration missions, and after updating the planetary protection recommendations, a biological decontamination program has been designed for Mars 96 landers. After sterilization or biocleaning of equipment and instruments, these are integrated into a cleanroom and kept in sterile conditions with recontamination control in order to satisfy the surface contamination requirements. The Mars 96 orbiter does not need any implementation of sterilization procedures because the probability of spacecraft crash does not exceed 10 −5 and because it's orbit is in accordance with quarantine requirements (orbit lifetime with 0.9999 confidence for the first 20 years and 0.95 confidence during the next 20 years). For the Mars 96 small stations, different methods have been used and especially for the French and Finnish payload, a complete description of hydrogen peroxide gas plasma sterilization will be given, including bioburden assessments and sterility level determination. Probe integration implementation and procedures are described in the second part of this paper.