Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer - Mass Spectrometer (MOMA-MS) is an instrument in the MOMA instrument suite for the European Space Agency (ESA) ExoMars 2020 Rover. The rover is Planetary Protection Mission Category IVb, the first IVb mission since the Viking missions in the 1970s. Within the sample path of the MOMA instrument suite, the hardware surfaces of the must be sanitized to a level of less than 0.03 spore/m sq. To meet this requirement, the MS sample path was subjected to Dry Heat Microbial Reduction (DHMR) to decrease the number of viable spores by 4 orders of magnitude from a measured 88 spores/m sq to 0.009 spores/m sq. Before DHMR, the hardware is handled using standard cleanroom practices. After DHMR, planetary protection filters protect the sample path for most of integration, but when sample path exposure is required, aseptic operations are instituted and exposure times are kept to an absolute minimum. The surface area of exposure is also taken into account to determine safe exposure times. Before work begins, the ISO class 5 aseptic workspace is cleaned and tested for surface and airborne bioburden, and all tools that will contact or be used near sample path surfaces are sterilized. During the exposure activity, sterile garments are worn, sterile gloves are changed as often as necessary, and the environment is monitored with active and passive fallout for bioburden and real time airborne particle counts. Sterile tools are handled by a two person team so that the operator touches only the tool and not the exterior surfaces of the sterilization pouch, and a sterile operating field is established as a safe place to organize tools or parts during the aseptic operations. In cases where aseptic operations are not feasible, localized DHMR is used after exposure. Any breach in the planetary protection cleanliness can necessitate repeating instrument level DHMR, which not only has significant cost and schedule implications, it also become a risk to hardware that is not rated for repeated long exposures to high temperatures.
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
COSPAR 2018; 14-22 Jul. 2018; Pasadena, CA; United States