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Planetary Protection Contamination Study Underway at Mars Analog Site
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Planetary Protection Contamination Study Underway at Mars Analog Site

On August 9-14, Brian Glass will lead a small crew of four people at a location 100 miles removed from the nearest other humans to survey microbial counts in surface soils as a function of distance from an Arctic research camp near Haughton Crater. An initial survey was done in 1999 prior to human presence, and a follow-up in 2007. This year will provide information on the effects of contaminants spread by 15 summers of human crews and provide data on microbial populations and the types of microbes surviving in an extreme environment at the very cold (-40 for most of the year) high-UV radiation Mars analog site. This information will inform human/Mars surface architecture studies regarding planetary protection and contamination.

BACKGROUND: Haughton Crater is a 20 km-diameter impact crater in the high Arctic permafrost. It has been an Ames-developed Mars analog site (with the Canadian Space Agency) since the late 1990s, with Pascal Lee as the Principal Investigator responsible for the camp and facilities. Brian Glass is the Principal Investigator for this year’s Planetary Protection Study.

Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support.

PROGRAM FUNDING: Human Research Program (HRP), Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

POC: Brian Glass, brian.glass@nasa.gov

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