Microbial Contamination: Sample Return from Mars Moons: Departure of Microbes From Mars’ Surface

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 22, 2019
Filed under ,
Microbial Contamination: Sample Return from Mars Moons: Departure of Microbes From Mars’ Surface
Mars Impact Event

Potential microbial contamination of Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, which can be brought about by transportation of Mars ejecta produced by meteoroid impacts on the Martian surface, has been comprehensively assessed in a statistical approach, based on the most probable history of recent major gigantic meteoroid collisions on the Martian surface.

This article is the first part of our study to assess potential microbial density in Mars ejecta departing from the Martian atmosphere, as a source of the second part where statistical analysis of microbial contamination probability is conducted. Potential microbial density on the Martian surface as the source of microorganisms was estimated by analogy to the terrestrial areas having the similar arid and cold environments, from which a probabilistic function was deduced as the asymptotic limit.

Microbial survival rate during hypervelocity meteoroid collisions was estimated by numerical analysis of impact phenomena with and without taking internal friction and plastic deformation of the colliding meteoroid and the target ground into consideration.

Trajectory calculations of departing ejecta through the Martian atmosphere were conducted with taking account of aerodynamic deceleration and heating by the aid of computational fluid dynamic analysis. It is found that Mars ejecta smaller than 0.03 m in diameter hardly reach the Phobos orbit due to aerodynamic deceleration, or mostly sterilized due to significant aerodynamic heating even though they can reach the Phobos orbit and beyond. Finally, the baseline dataset of microbial density in Mars ejecta departing for Martian moons has been presented for the second part of our study.

Assessment of the probability of microbial contamination for sample return from Martian moons I: Departure of microbes from Martian surface

Kazuhisa Fujita, Kosuke Kurosawa, Hidenori Genda, Ryuki Hyodo, Shingo Matsuyama, Akihiko Yamagishi, Takashi Mikouchi, Takafumi Niihara
(Submitted on 17 Jul 2019)

Comments: 24 pages, 12 figures, and 5 tables, accepted for publication in Life Sciences in Space Research, special issues on planetary protection
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1907.07575 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1907.07575v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Kosuke Kurosawa
[v1] Wed, 17 Jul 2019 15:21:10 UTC (4,649 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Naโ€™Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) ๐Ÿ––๐Ÿป