Assessment of the Forward Contamination Risk of Mars by Clean Room Isolates from Space-Craft Assembly Facilities through Aeolian Transport - a Model Study

Imported: 27 Jul '16 | Published: 26 Jul '16

Luc van Heereveld, Jonathan Merrison, Per Nørnberg, Kai Finster

Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

Abstract: The increasing number of missions to Mars also increases the risk of forward contamination. Consequently there is a need for effective protocols to ensure efficient protection of the Martian environment against terrestrial microbiota. Despite the fact of constructing sophisticated clean rooms for spacecraft assembly a 100 % avoidance of contamination appears to be impossible. Recent surveys of these facilities have identified a significant number of microbes belonging to a variety of taxonomic groups that survive the harsh conditions of clean rooms. These microbes may have a strong contamination potential, which needs to be investigate to apply efficient decontamination treatments. In this study we propose a series of tests to evaluate the potential of clean room contaminants to survive the different steps involved in forward contamination. We used Staphylococcus xylosus as model organism to illustrate the different types of stress that potential contaminants will be subjected to on their way from the spacecraft onto the surface of Mars. Staphylococcus xylosus is associated with human skin and commonly found in clean rooms and could therefore contaminate the spacecraft as a result of human activity during the assembling process. The path the cell will take from the surface of the spacecraft onto the surface of Mars was split into steps representing different stresses... Read More

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