Industry Partnerships



The Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JPL performed a study to assess the total microbial bioburden and diversity associated with commercial airline cabin air. The monitoring and control of air quality aboard commercial aircraft is critical due to the transmission of emerging diseases. Passengers and crewmembers are the predominant source of microbial contamination. The study included samples from three commercial carriers. Samples were collected prior to boarding, mid-flight and during descent. Sampling areas included seat, floor and lavatory locations. Among the results, data showed that the microbiological community differed on domestic flights compared with international flights and that viable microbes were drastically reduced during descent of the aircraft versus during passenger boarding.

Relevant Publications

Osman, Shariff, et al. "Microbial burden and diversity of commercial airline cabin air during short and long durations of travel." The ISME journal 2.5 (2008): 482-497.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company whose Space Systems facility in Denver is building the InSight spacecraft. InSight is the sixth Discovery mission in which Lockheed Martin Space Systems has participated. The Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JPL directly interfaces with the Planetary Protection management and engineering teams at Lockheed Martin. Through consultation and coordinated Planetary Protection implementation effort, they ensure compliance with Planetary Protection requirements


Under JPL contract, STERIS Corporation conducts research and development activities to optimize and certify a STERIS patented proprietary sterilization technology for application in spacecraft systems and sub-systems sterilization. The goal of the research is to demonstrate the effectiveness of vapor hydrogen peroxide (VHP) in killing a selection of microorganisms known to be highly resistant to sterilization that are typically found in spacecraft assembly areas. This technique serves as an alternative for heat microbial reduction whose process is not ideal for heat sensitive hardware. Les C. Vinney, STERIS's President and Chief Executive Officer said, "We are pleased to be working with NASA and supporting their efforts to explore our solar system. STERIS technologies are used to sterilize and decontaminate critical environments every day in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and research industries worldwide. This agreement reinforces our belief that our technologies can be used in even broader applications, and represents one of several steps we are taking to adapt our technologies to new markets, a key element of our growth strategy. We look forward to working with NASA on this and future projects."

Relevant Publications

Chen, Fei, et al. "Planetary protection concerns during pre-launch radioisotope power system final integration activities." (2012).

CL#: 17-1953, 18-1585

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