Eli5: Why are all the machines that are sent to space built in Clean rooms?



How will it be different if it isn’t built in a clean room? What is the significance of working in a clean room

In: Earth Science

There are different types of clean rooms depending on how clean you want them. But in general they try to keep the clean rooms free of any dust or other particles. If these contaminants end up in the wrong place in the machines they can end up causing huge issues. Especially as the dust is not contained toward the bottom of the machine by the gravity but are left free to float around inside it. For example some dusts like metal shavings or dust from a pencil conducts electricity very well so if this dust collects on exposed electrical circuits they could end up causing a short circuit. This is also why they do not use pencils in space by the way but rather use grease pens, wax pens, marker pens, crayons, etc. which does not produce any dust. Other types of dust can also be corrosive, abrasive or otherwise cause the machines to fail earlier then designed.

Because they’re highly sensitive materials.

They’re working with very complex electronics, delicate things.

When you take your computer to a repair shop (or repair it yourself) you take some precautions to make sure you don’t get a ton of dust/dirt/anything on it, rubber gloves, air cans, a clean work space, stuff like that.

But say you screw up and somehow a tiny little piece of dirt or metal gets onto your motherboard or cpu and causes a short or messed it up in some form. The worst outcome for you is you have to go spend a couple hundred dollars to replace it.

But you can’t do that with a satellite in space, you can just go replace a part that breaks. So you need to do everything possible to keep that part from ever breaking, keeping it perfectly pristine.