Abstract by Caleb Ettinger
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Visualizing Bacteria Entering a Vacuum
Understanding the survivability of bacteria spores in outer space conditions is essential for implementing proper planetary protection measures for future space missions. In order to analyze bacteria in a space like condition, they must be introduced into a vacuum chamber for analysis. The purpose of this research is to better understand and visualize how bacteria react to gas expansion when introduced into a vacuum chamber. The bacteria are first ionized though electrospray ionization and the droplets move from the tip into the vacuum chamber through a pinhole inlet 500 microns in diameter. Bacteria are then trapped on a membrane filter at various distances from the inlet within the vacuum chamber. Culturing the filters gives a direct visualization and understanding of how bacteria spread in the gas expansion. Future research will be done to find if the mass of the different types of bacteria affect the how the bacteria spread.