Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio, October 21, 2019 -- Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab will talk about their research into the harmful effects of organic contamination on space exploration hardware and how to prevent them.

Contamination control protocols are developing in parallel with the advancement of human space exploration. This session presents research on current efforts to upgrade the systematic data analysis, thermal vacuum chamber operations and instrumentation selection for use in spacecraft hardware environmental testing. 

At the 66th annual AVS International Symposium and Exhibition in Columbus, Ohio, JPL scientist Martin Maxwell will present a session on how increased sensitivity of instruments and missions calls for an update in outdated contamination procedures. 

“Human spaceflight missions will include remote sensing instruments, new solar array designs and advanced thermal control systems -- all of which have contamination control requirements that would benefit from the practices outlined in our presentation,” Martin said.  

“Within the contamination control discipline, the biggest challenge we face is the utilization of increasingly sensitive instruments on future missions. For the Mars 2020 mission, outgassing rate requirements are far more stringent than our previous Mars rover mission, which has pushed the limits of our detection capabilities and prompted the work in this presentation.” 

Martin and his colleagues used quartz crystal microbalances to conduct monitoring of hardware outgassing rates. They expect this will improve upon current traditional use of witness plates and solvent swabs to characterize chamber background and system environment. 

Martin is a contamination control engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Previously, he worked as a contamination control engineer with Virgin Orbit and, prior to that, as a materials engineer with SpaceX. 


Presentation: “Advancements in Monitoring and Operating Thermal Vacuum Environmental Test Chambers for Next-Generation Space Exploration Hardware,” Maxwell Martin, A.T. Wong, W.A. Hoey, J.M. Alred, P.A. Boeder, C.E. Soares, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Monday, Oct. 21, 5 p.m., Room A213 in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio 


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