Responsible Center: NASA JSC
Grant Monitor: Whitmore, Mihriban
Center Contact: 281-244-1004
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research
Grant/Contract No.: Directed Research
Project Type: GROUND
No. of Post Docs: 0
No. of PhD Candidates: 0
No. of Master's Candidates: 0
No. of Bachelor's Candidates: 0
No. of PhD Degrees: 0
No. of Master's Degrees: 0
No. of Bachelor's Degrees: 0
|| As humans continue to explore deep into space, microorganisms will travel with them. Spacecraft missions mitigate the risk of infectious disease through vehicle design and operational controls. The effectiveness of these controls are evaluated by microbiological monitoring of spacecraft, food, water, and the crew that is performed preflight, in-flight, and post-flight. Current requirements associated with microbiological monitoring are predicated on a culture-based methodology where microorganisms are grown on a semi-solid growth medium and colonies are enumerated. Subsequent identification of the organisms requires specialized labor and large equipment and historically has been performed on Earth.
NASA’s current culture-based requirements limit the types of technology that can be used. This limitation is demonstrated by culture-based "measurement criteria", which are in Colony Forming Units (CFU, representing the growth of one microorganism at a single location on the agar medium) per a given volume, area, or sample size. As the CFU unit by definition is culture-based, these requirements limit alternative technologies for spaceflight applications. As spaceflight missions such as those to Mars extend further into space, culture-based technology (and associated consumables) will become difficult to implement due to limitations in shelf life, stowage volume, and mass.
In addition, an extensive amount of new knowledge has become available over the life of the International Space Station (ISS), which give direction for new or modified microbial control requirements for vehicle design and mission operations
The goal of this task is to develop and recommend a new set of requirements for vehicle design and mission operations, including microbiological monitoring, based upon “lessons learned” and new technology. These new requirements will be based on (1) Space Shuttle and ISS design and operational “lessons learned” and (2) new/advanced technologies that may be translated for spaceflight monitoring applications. Requirements will be focused on the types of samples, specifically:
• potable water
• spaceflight food
• environmental samples, such as vehicle air and vehicle and cargo surfaces
Toward this goal, the specific research aims of this study are:
Aim 1 – To use historical data to assess optimal requirements for vehicle design and mission operations. This “lessons learned” approach will be incorporated in a microbial risk assessment approach to recommend removal of unnecessary requirements, optimization of current requirements, and implementation of new requirements.
Aim 2 – To assess current and near term technologies for application toward next-generation monitoring requirements. This aim will also focus on defining gaps between optimal requirements and available technologies/flight resources.
Aim 3 – To define practical monitoring requirements for (a) immediate development of next generation ground operations and flight hardware and (b) long term goals for future requirements, if different than those delivered in (a).
|Rationale for HRP Directed Research:
|| This Task focuses on studies to (1) define and validate suspected risks and (2) investigate and apply technology toward new mission requirements. Findings from these directed studies will lead to subsequent solicitations. As such, the Task contains components that are Highly Constrained, potentially including data mining of unpublished data, crew medical data and feedback on spacecraft environments, as well as the evaluation of new technology for future spaceflight requirements.