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Planned Environmental Microbiology Aspects of Future Lunar and Mars MissionsWith the establishment of the Constellation Program, NASA has initiated efforts designed similar to the Apollo Program to return to the moon and subsequently travel to Mars. Early lunar sorties will take 4 crewmembers to the moon for 4 to 7 days. Later missions will increase in duration up to 6 months as a lunar habitat is constructed. These missions and vehicle designs are the forerunners of further missions destined for human exploration of Mars. Throughout the planning and design process, lessons learned from the International Space Station (ISS) and past programs will be implemented toward future exploration goals. The standards and requirements for these missions will vary depending on life support systems, mission duration, crew activities, and payloads. From a microbiological perspective, preventative measures will remain the primary techniques to mitigate microbial risk. Thus, most of the effort will focus on stringent preflight monitoring requirements and engineering controls designed into the vehicle, such as HEPA air filters. Due to volume constraints in the CEV, in-flight monitoring will be limited for short-duration missions to the measurement of biocide concentration for water potability. Once long-duration habitation begins on the lunar surface, a more extensive environmental monitoring plan will be initiated. However, limited in-flight volume constraints and the inability to return samples to Earth will increase the need for crew capabilities in determining the nature of contamination problems and method of remediation. In addition, limited shelf life of current monitoring hardware consumables and limited capabilities to dispose of biohazardous trash will drive flight hardware toward non-culture based methodologies, such as hardware that rapidly distinguishes biotic versus abiotic surface contamination. As missions progress to Mars, environmental systems will depend heavily on regeneration of air and water and biological waste remediation and regeneration systems, increasing the need for environmental monitoring. Almost complete crew autonomy will be needed for assessment and remediation of contamination problems. Cabin capacity will be limited; thus, current methods of microbial monitoring will be inadequate. Future methodology must limit consumables, and these consumables must have a shelf life of over three years. In summary, missions to the moon and Mars will require a practical design that prudently uses available resources to mitigate microbial risk to the crew.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Ott, C. Mark
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Castro, Victoria A.
(Wyle Labs., Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Pierson, Duane L.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
Subject Category
Meeting Information
4th International Workshop on Space Microbiology(Kaluga)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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