We Are Planetary Protection


[quiet majestic music]>>Alvin: From the very
beginning of planning, all the way up to
launch, we’re there. We’re actually one of the
only groups on lab to be a part of a mission
from start to end. We are the intersection of
engineering and biology. We are Planetary Protection. So, our group is focused
on making sure we meet NASA’s stringent requirements
for preventing forward and backward contamination. We make sure that we
don’t contaminate other planetary bodies
with Earth microbes before we have a chance
to even study it. So we’re making investments
in cutting-edge technology that can enable scientific
discovery and keep Earth safe. >>Brian: When we start a
mission, the first question we asked ourselves is how can
we protect the target body. And the way we go about
doing this is really changing right now as we think about
going to exciting places like Europa and Enceladus
and the other icy satellites that we might visit
that have water. We’ve been developing our
ability to look at the probability of
contamination we know exists in spacecraft assembly areas
and that biology that then can get on a spacecraft
hardware and actually travel out into the solar system. And so what we’re doing there
is we’re trying to minimize that probability of
delivering one or more viable organisms to the surface
of one of these icy bodies that has underneath it,
a big ocean of water, that has all kinds of unknown
chemistry that might serve as a really good place for
Earth organisms to grow. >>Moogega: We then
make sure that we microbially reduce and keep the hardware clean
that we are building. This can be done by elevating
the temperature and killing the microbes on the surface,
by wiping it with IPA, Isopropyl Alcohol, and
we use all kinds of new cutting edge technologies to
really help us keep it clean. When we take samples
from the spacecraft, it doesn’t matter if the
part is small or large, it’s all equally important. Once we have those samples,
we then bring it to the lab and really assess how many
microbes are on the surface.>>Wayne: Once we’ve
sampled the spacecraft, occasionally we find
microorganisms that are growing in our bioassay plates. When that happens, we
bring those Petri dishes up to our laboratory here,
where we preserve them for future studies, investigations,
and identify them. And the identifications
are very important for contributing to a
passenger list that might be on the way to other
planetary bodies. >>Parag: We can then use
the DNA extracted from the clean room as well as from
the spacecraft hardware itself to identify what kind of
microbes are present on the hardware. This approach was enabled
by bioinformatics, a computational modeling
algorithms used to analyze the DNA sequencing data. Scientists are not only
understanding microbes present in the clean room and hardware,
they’re also looking at microbial diversity on
International Space Station. By understanding the
microbial diversity, we will be equipped
for human habitation of other planetary bodies in
the future, such as Mars. [spacecraft roaring] [majestic music] >>Alvin: So what do we
do at the end of a mission after we’ve launched? The spacecraft’s on it’s way. We go again. We start again with
the planning process on the next mission, and
we work the same problems with new knowledge from
the previous mission and we put it all together
to further minimize the probability of
contamination and better protect our planetary bodies
that we are visiting and our science integrity. We go again!
>>We go again! >>Crowd: Let’s go again!

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