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Microbial biodiversity assessment of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars 2016 mission

Koskinen, Kaisa and Rettberg, Petra and Pukall, Rüdiger and Auerbach, Anna and Wink, Lisa and Barczyk, Simon and Perras, Alexandra and Mahnert, Alexander and Margheritis, Diana and Kminek, Gerhard and Moissl-Eichinger, Christine (2017) Microbial biodiversity assessment of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars 2016 mission. Microbiome, 5 (1). BioMed Central. DOI: 10.1186/s40168-017-0358-3 ISSN 2049-2618

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40168-017-0358-3

Abstract

Background: The ExoMars 2016 mission, consisting of the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli lander, was launched on March 14 2016 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan and reached its destination in October 2016. The Schiaparelli lander was subject to strict requirements for microbial cleanliness according to the obligatory planetary protection policy. To reach the required cleanliness, the ExoMars 2016 flight hardware was assembled in a newly built, biocontrolled cleanroom complex at Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy. In this study, we performed microbiological surveys of the cleanroom facilities and the spacecraft hardware before and during the assembly, integration and testing (AIT) activities. Methods: Besides the European Space Agency (ESA) standard bioburden assay, that served as a proxy for the microbiological contamination in general, we performed various alternative cultivation assays and utilised molecular techniques, including quantitative PCR and next generation sequencing, to assess the absolute and relative abundance and broadest diversity of microorganisms and their signatures in the cleanroom and on the spacecraft hardware. Results: Our results show that the bioburden, detected microbial contamination and microbial diversity decreased continuously after the cleanroom was decontaminated with more effective cleaning agents and during the ongoing AIT. The studied cleanrooms and change room were occupied by very distinct microbial communities: Overall, the change room harboured a higher number and diversity of microorganisms, including Propionibacterium, which was found to be significantly increased in the change room. In particular, the so called alternative cultivation assays proved important in detecting a broader cultivable diversity than covered by the standard bioburden assay and thus completed the picture on the cleanroom microbiota. Conclusion: During the whole project, the bioburden stayed at acceptable level and did not raise any concern for the ExoMars 2016 mission. The cleanroom complex at Thales Alenia Space in Turin is an excellent example of how efficient microbiological control is performed.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/115092/
Document Type:Article
Title:Microbial biodiversity assessment of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars 2016 mission
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Koskinen, KaisaDepartment for Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria and BioTechMed-Graz, Graz, Austria.UNSPECIFIED
Rettberg, Petraradiation biology department, institute of aerospace medicine, german aerospace center (dlr), cologne, germany; petra.rettberg (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4439-2395
Pukall, RüdigerLeibniz-Institute DSMZ - German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, Braunschweig, Germany.UNSPECIFIED
Auerbach, AnnaDepartment for Microbiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.UNSPECIFIED
Wink, LisaDepartment for Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, AustriaUNSPECIFIED
Barczyk, Simonradiation biology department, institute of aerospace medicine, german aerospace center (dlr), cologne, germanyUNSPECIFIED
Perras, AlexandraDepartment for Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria and Department for Microbiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.UNSPECIFIED
Mahnert, AlexanderInstitute of Environmental Biotechnology, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria.UNSPECIFIED
Margheritis, DianaThales Alenia Space, Turin, Italy.UNSPECIFIED
Kminek, GerhardEuropean Space Agency, Noordwijk, The NetherlandsUNSPECIFIED
Moissl-Eichinger, ChristineDepartment for Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria and BioTechMed-Graz, Graz, Austria.UNSPECIFIED
Date:2017
Journal or Publication Title:Microbiome
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:5
DOI :10.1186/s40168-017-0358-3
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:2049-2618
Status:Published
Keywords:ExoMars, Planetary protection, Life-detection, Astrobiology, Cleanroom microbiota
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R FR - Forschung unter Weltraumbedingungen
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Strahlenbiologie, R - Projekt ExoMars
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:15 Nov 2017 15:44
Last Modified:15 Nov 2017 15:44

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