Why are satellites kept sterile?

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Offline Ryan Christianson

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Why are satellites kept sterile?
« on: 11/07/2009 15:30:02 »
Ryan Christianson  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris,

I newbielink:http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/ [nonactive] - found it on iTunes. I like to listen while I am doing chores around the house :)

I had a question about satellites. I was reading about a new satellite that is being launched and noticed in that in all of the pictures it looks like the workers are going to great pains to keep every thing clean- wearing hair nets, white outfits, almost like they were doing surgery. Why do they go to this extent to be so clean? Is it to protect the electronics from contamination? The website I was looking at is here: newbielink:http://www.terrestar.com/ [nonactive]


Ryan (Seattle, Washington USA)

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 13/07/2009 16:11:30 by Ryan Christianson »


Offline wanhafizi

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Why are satellites kept sterile?
« Reply #1 on: 30/07/2009 03:19:41 »

  • for micro electronic production, a sterile environment is a must
  • sensitive detectors such as imaging devices and lenses requires dust free environment while being constructed
  • debris could cause catastrophic disasters while taking off in a strong G force
  • debris could cause physical damages to the satellite parts while in zero gravity
  • debris might react to direct radiation and heat in space, and could potentially damage the satellite and it's electronics

it is very expensive to send something to orbit, so, they are not taking any chances

...I think [::)] ...


Offline Don_1

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Why are satellites kept sterile?
« Reply #2 on: 30/07/2009 08:18:30 »
Apart from all of that, we don't want any triffids growing in space.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.


Offline syhprum

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Why are satellites kept sterile?
« Reply #3 on: 30/07/2009 21:21:58 »
The first moonlanders that preceded the Apollo landings were not adequately  sterilised so that when one of the cameras was retrieved by the Apollo astronauts it was found to be contaminated by bacteria much to the annoyance of the astrobiologists.
« Last Edit: 30/07/2009 22:33:43 by syhprum »