Sep. 13, 2012

Behind the Scenes of a Spacecraft Assembly Facility

by Leslie Taylor

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NASA assembles its spacecraft and prepares them for launch in sterile clean rooms -- in part to protect any delicate instrumentation, and in part to make sure that the spacecraft don't bring Earth microbes along with them to their extraterrestrial destination. Tomorrow on Science Friday, we'll be talking with Catharine Conley, a NASA planetary protection officer, about what it means for Curiosity's Mars mission that one of the rover's drill bits may have been contaminated prior to launch. 
Just how clean is a clean room? And how does a person prepare to do work in one? Check out this video tour of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory.

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For more about what it takes to engineer an instrument destined for space, check out Flora's video that takes you behind the scenes of Honeybee Robotics, a lab that built parts for Curiosity.

About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is the online editor at and She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be. She is also Science Friday's former web editor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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