Tag Archives: clean room

A visit to OSIRIS-Rex clean room

NASA recently gave a press tour of the clean room where the asteroid probe OSIRIS-Rex is being prepped for its September 8 launch, and one reporter from that tour wrote a very nice description of what it was like.

After such a tour, most reporters write up stories that describe the spaceship, its mission, and its status. This reporter however did something better. He wrote up what it’s like to enter a clean room for a mission only weeks from launch.

Our belongings have been lined up in a row alongside us. And then the dog arrives.

It’s a beautiful specimen of a german shepherd, long and enthusiastic, being led by a sturdy military-type with a buzzcut wearing what looks like mercenary gear. The dog is led down the row of belongings once. Then twice. Then he and his owner head back to their truck and drive off. We have passed. We are free to go into the blessed blast of cool air on the bus that’s been idling alongside us for what seems like hours, but has really only been about 15 minutes.

And that’s only the start. Read it all. Quite fascinating.

A rare new microbe has been found in two different clean rooms, one in Florida and the other in South America.

A rare new microbe has been found in two different clean rooms, one in Florida and the other in South America.

This population of berry-shaped bacteria is so different from any other known bacteria, it has been classified as not only a new species, but also a new genus, the next level of classifying the diversity of life. Its discoverers named it Tersicoccus phoenicis. Tersi is from Latin for clean, like the room. Coccus, from Greek for berry, describes the bacterium’s shape. The phoenicis part is for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, the spacecraft being prepared for launch in 2007 when the bacterium was first collected by test-swabbing the floor in the Florida clean room.

Some other microbes have been discovered in a spacecraft clean room and found nowhere else, but none previously had been found in two different clean rooms and nowhere else. Home grounds of the new one are about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) apart, in a NASA facility at Kennedy Space Center and a European Space Agency facility in Kourou, French Guiana.

Unlike the bacteria found on ISS, this microbe does not appear to pose any specific health problem. It does provide biologists with a good example of the kind of life that might survive in hostile environments like Mars.