This program is a Microsoft Access program that performed statistical analysis of the colony counts from assays performed on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft to determine the bioburden density, 3-sigma biodensity, and the total bioburdens required for the MSL prelaunch reports. It also contains numerous tools that report the data in various ways to simplify the reports required. The program performs all the calculations directly in the MS Access program. Prior to this development, the data was exported to large Excel files that had to be cut and pasted to provide the desired results. The program contains a main menu and a number of submenus. Analyses can be performed by using either all the assays, or only the accountable assays that will be used in the final analysis.
There are three options on the first menu: either calculate using (1) the old MER (Mars Exploration Rover) statistics, (2) the MSL statistics for all the assays, or (3) the MSL statistics for only the accountable assays. Other options on the main menu include a data editing form and utility programs that produce various reports requested by the microbiologists and the project, and tools to generate the groupings for the final analyses.
The analyses can be carried out in three ways: Each assay can be treated separately, the assays can be collectively treated for the whole zone as a group, or the assays can be collected in groups designated by the JPL Planetary Protection Manager. The latter approach was used to generate the final report because assays on the same equipment or similar equipment can be assumed to have been exposed to the same environment and cleaning. Thus, the statistics are improved by having a larger population, thereby reducing the standard deviation by the square root of N.
For each method mentioned above, three reports are available. The first is a detailed report including all the data. This version was very useful in verifying the calculations. The second is a brief report that is similar to the full detailed report, but does not print out the data. The third is a grand total and summary report in which each assay requires only one line. For the first and second reports, most of the calculations are performed in the report section itself. For the third, all the calculations are performed directly in the query bound to the report. All the numerical results were verified by comparing them with Excel templates, then exporting the data from the Planetary Protection Analysis program to Excel.