Sterilization of the antenna for Mars

Sterilization of the antenna for Mars

Radar antenna with grounding for ExoMars 2020 rover from ESA. It was pre-cleaned in an ultra-clean room in preparation for the sterilization process. He must prevent the penetration of earthly microbes on the Red Planet.

The laboratory of vital activity, physical sciences and life support, located in the Netherlands Technical Center, has a clean room with an area of ​​35 m 2. Equipped with a dry heat sterilizer used to reduce microbial activity on equipment launched into foreign worlds.

Here we consider the antenna WISDOM, designed to listen to the subsurface Martian layer. After pre-cleaning and sampling for samples, the antenna was placed in a dry heat sterilizer to achieve a 99.9% reduction in bioburden. To test the effectiveness of the process, tampons are subjected to heatstroke and cultured for 72 hours to analyze the number of surviving disputes and bacteria. A viable bioburden on the WISDOM surface is then calculated. If the level is below the mission maximum, it is cleared for delivery.

The air in the sterile room passes through a two-stage filter system. An incoming person has to go through a douche to remove all contaminants. According to the international agreement on planetary protection, space agencies must prevent the transportation of terrestrial microbes to other planets and satellites in the solar system where other people's life may be located.

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