HJ Science and Technology, Inc. seeks to develop a fully integrated and automated instrument for performing rapid detection and monitoring of microbes on surfaces and air environments. This technology supports NASA’s Planetary Protection goals of protecting solar system bodies from biological contamination as well as protecting Earth from life forms possibly returned from those extraterrestrial bodies. Specifically, the proposed instrument autonomously and rapidly enumerates bioburden on surface and air environments in cleanrooms, spacecraft, and payload hardware. In addition to measuring the total number of microbes, the instrument distinguishes between microbe states such as viable organisms or spores relevant in Planetary Protection practices. This instrument stems from our novel ChargeSwitch Concentration and Purification (CSCP) technology that bridges the gap between large volume environmental sampling and small volume genomic detection without sacrificing cell capture efficiency. In Phase I, we have demonstrated the capability our CSCP technology to perform microbial detection and characterization with similar performance as that of NASA’s culture-based Standard Assay. In Phase II, we will construct and deliver a microbial detection instrument by leveraging our CSCP technology to fully integrate three modules for large volume concentration, sample processing, and qPCR in an enclosed, compact, lightweight, and low power package.
The proposed microbial detection instrument is ideal to support the Planetary Protection’s goal of reducing cross-contamination of terrestrial and possible extraterrestrial life forms. The instrument rapidly quantifies and autonomously monitors bioburden of cleanrooms and spacecrafts during assembly and flight preparations. Additionally, our technology is adaptable for spaceflight operations providing a potential roadmap to monitor microbes during missions to and from extraterrestrial bodies.
The proposed microbial detection instrument is naturally suited for pathogen detection and monitoring in water and food supply industries. Moreover, the autonomous monitoring capability of our proposed instrument is ideal for cleanroom monitoring in manufacturing or pharmaceutical environments.