APR 03, 2018 7:21 PM PDT

Here's Why We Sterilize Spacecraft

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


Whenever we send spacecraft into space or to another planetary body for scientific research, it's vital that we scrub its surface of Earthly microbes beforehand to prevent cross-contamination; this is particularly important as we search our solar system for other habitable places besides Earth.

NASA and other space agencies around the world follow strict sterilization rules before sending missions into space. There are several methods to sterilize a spacecraft, such as baking, radiation treatment, and alcoholic scrubbing. No cleaning method is perfect, so current regulations allow for up to 300,000 spores on a single spacecraft.

Without these regulations, it would be easy for Earth-based microbes to hitch a ride on a spacecraft to another planet and colonize the surface. This would mean contaminating the surface and potentially throwing false positives as we search for life.

Unfortunately, commercial space programs are becoming more popular, and they aren't regulated as heavily as federal space programs. It's essential that we take care during commercial space exploration too if we're to uncover the secrets of our solar system.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2020
Plants & Animals
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
JUL 15, 2020
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
The familial and social relationships between whales, such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins, are moderately understood. ...
AUG 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Are There More Rogue Planets than Stars?
AUG 22, 2020
Are There More Rogue Planets than Stars?
Researchers from Ohio State University have theorized that there may be more rogue planets (planets that don't orbit ...
AUG 22, 2020
Neuroscience
Why Don't Babies Always Remember What they Learn?
AUG 22, 2020
Why Don't Babies Always Remember What they Learn?
Researchers from Ruhr- Universitaet Bochum (RUB) in Germany have found that the mood babies are in when they learn somet ...
AUG 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Asteroid May Collide With Earth in November
AUG 24, 2020
Asteroid May Collide With Earth in November
NASA has said that an asteroid known as 2018VP1 is heading towards Earth, and may potentially collide with our planet on ...
SEP 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
SEP 10, 2020
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
Snails, marine and terrestrial, are likely primarily imagined to be attached to a substrate. However, under the waves, t ...
SEP 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
SEP 15, 2020
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Chicago have found that carbon-rich planets outside our ...
Loading Comments...