One of the great challenges of the study of extra-terrestrial materials is discriminating the indigenous signatures from terrestrial contamination, so much of the processing of samples and all curation and building of space instruments is performed in dedicated clean rooms.
The OU has 3 primary clean room environments for sample curation, clean fabrication, and clean petrography.
Sample curation facility
This comprises a suite of labs covering approx 60m2 that is the main facility for handling and storage of meteorite, lunar and other extra-terrestrial samples; the main 30m2 cleanroom is ISO Class 6 (Class 1,000), supported by an ISO Class 7 chemistry lab and two ISO 5 (Class 100) rooms.
Clean fabrication facility
This facility is dedicated to building space hardware, there is a 50m2 ISO 6 clean room, supported by an ISO 7 chemistry, preparation and control laboratory.
Clean petrography suite
This suite is dedicated to the characterisation of rock samples prior to analysis by the OU mass spectrometers, there is a 45m2 Class 7 clean room containing the main optical microscope systems, a laser Raman micro-probe and a UV-Vis micro-spectrophotometer.