Student-Faculty Programs Office
Summer 2017 Announcements of Opportunity

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Project:  Development of Planetary Protection Sterilization Techniques and Processes
Disciplines:  Biology/Bioengineering, planetary protection
Mentor:  Laura Newlin, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 354-0130
Background:  Space exploration missions that target bodies of significant interest relative to the process of chemical evolution and/or the origin of life and for which scientific opinion acknowledges that there is a significant chance that contamination by spacecraft could compromise future investigations need to follow planetary protection guidelines. The high level policy for protecting these bodies from forward contamination stems from from the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and COSPAR Policy. Planetary Protection requirements are levied on projects by NASA. The implementation of these planetary protection requirements can be done in various ways but typically the modalities used to clean and sterilized are a limited tool set. Currently, heat microbial reduction and vapor hydrogen peroxide are the only two modalities that have specifications approved by NASA.
Description:  Investigation of the current state-of-the-art in sterilization modalities with determination of which modalities could be useful to develop for application on spacecraft hardware. Sterilization modalities will be selected to move forward for further development and testing on representative complex models. This would include design of experimental plan, designing and building test rigs, determining representative models for sterilization tests, setting evaluation metrics, performing tests for evaluating efficacy of the modalities and processing assays in a microbiological laboratory. Analysis of the results and written reports and presentations are expected. Biobarrier designs to protect hardware from recontamination after sterilization will also be investigated.
Student Requirements:  microbiology, laboratory experience, design and building of hardware and test rigs, mechanical engineering
Location / Safety:  Project building and/or room locations: . Student will need special safety training: Yes.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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Problems with or questions about submitting an AO?  Call Jen Manglos of the Student-Faculty Programs Office at (626) 395-2885.
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