Large-Area, Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Jet for Spacecraft Surface Sterilization for Planetary Protection

Period of Performance: 06/10/2016 - 12/09/2016

$125K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Eagle Harbor Technologies, Inc.
169 Western Ave W Suite 263
Seattle, WA 98119
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

The planetary science community is interested in exploring solar system bodies with the potential for life detection, which requires technologies that implement Contamination Control for Planetary Protection. Currently, the only approved full-system microbial reduction method is dry heat microbial reduction, which requires heating of the spacecraft to high temperature for a fixed length of time at a specific humidity. While this technique is practical and effective, some state-of-the-art electronics and other thermally sensitive components make this technique unusable for certain materials. One potential alternative technique for surface sterilization of a fully assembled spacecraft or components is the use of atmospheric pressure plasma jet (APPJ), which has been an area of investigation within the biomedical community. The APPJ has the advantage that the plasma is ejected from a device (up to several centimeters) and travels to the surface to be sterilized. Eagle Harbor Technologies (EHT), Inc. is proposing to develop a large-area APPJ for spacecraft surface sterilization. EHT will leverage the previously developed EHT nanosecond pulser, which provides unprecedented control of output voltage, pulse width, and pulse repetition frequency. This capability will allow EHT researchers to develop and optimize an APPJ for surface sterilization.