1967-02-01

Planetary Quarantine and Its Challenge to Materials Reliability 670651

Microbiologists are concerned that uncontrolled planetary exploration may contaminate the planets with terrestrial microorganisms. Should this happen, we would never know if our Earth is really unique in the Solar System. Such contamination could happen through carelessness or by accident. To avoid such an occurrence, world scientists agreed to keep the environment of the planet Mars inviolate through 1984 -- to achieve a contamination probability of 10−3 or less.
The challenge facing the materials engineer in the manufacture of space vehicles where both particulate cleanliness and biological contamination must be rigidly controlled will be discussed. A brief review of the techniques of sterilization will also be presented. Some of the problems which must be considered because of the sterilization requirements are discussed. Thermal and chemical environments which will be required place a new burden, and an entirely new reliability history must be obtained.
A new technology encompassing microbiology and engineering is developing. The potential benefit of a controlled space exploration program is great. The losses are even greater. The challenge is here -- are you equipped to meet it?

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