The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration on December 27 informed that it's Mars 2020 rover will head off for the Red Planet in the coming year. The NASA project includes a collection of samples on the planet in the search for traces of ancient microbial life. The mission's journey began in a "clean room" in California like Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini. On Friday, one of two ultra-sterile labs used for spacecraft assembly at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, was briefly opened to journalists.
David Gruel, operations manager for Mars 2020 told the media persons on Friday that NASA needs to keep the hardware as pristine and as safe as possible until it reaches Mars.
Before entering the space research facility, journalists reportedly went through a lengthy sterilization process. Gruel explained that the process was necessary so that no unwanted material from the earth is mixed up with the samples collected from Mars. The cleansing gadgets included automated shoe brushes and sticky mats that remove particles from shoes before guests even reach the locker room. In the next step, the visitors were made to wear a "bunny suit" to prevent contamination which had sleeves sealed with adhesive tape along with face masks, latex gloves and even beard protectors for the more hirsute. In the final decontamination procedure, they pass beneath a pulsating "air shower" that blasts away the last unwanted particles. The restriction and precautions for entering the facility did not end there. As per reports, the journalists also had to remove foam covers from their microphones - a breeding ground for germs. Moreover, specially approved paper and pens were provided, in place of traditional writing implements which can shed dust and other particles. Makeup and perfume were also not allowed to be worn.
Gruel informed that the rover also is regularly scrubbed with isopropyl alcohol and a microfiber mop, and the lab's air is filtered 70 times per hour. Such protocols are also applied to technicians who work on crucial sampling equipment which are in fact more stringent. Gruel told that they can't take a shower, bathe the day they work on the hardware. They can't even put any hair products into their hair to style it, they can only wear one or two types of deodorant. The NASA scientist explained that precautions are a result of mistakes like lighting up cigarettes while building spacecraft which turned out to be pretty costly. In 1962, the sterilization of Ranger 3 mission accidentally fried the rocket's electronics, causing it to miss the Moon by more than 20,000 miles.