MSL incorporates instrumentation to guarantee a safe working environment for the crew under all possible conditions and events. Hazards that may be anticipated include:
Overheating in the furnace insert is detected by various temperature sensors: in the heaters themselves, in the furnace insert’s cooling loop, and in the experiment cartridge. A hard-wired safety circuit, independent from the facility electronics, compares measured values to experiment-specific set points and switches off power to the furnace insert if a critical value is exceeded. The water-cooling system is designed to withstand possible temperature overshoots during the time between switch-off and actual cool-down; any damages shall be confined to the furnace insert, which can be exchanged.
Loss of cartridge integrity during processing is a hazard for toxic samples. These may release particles into the core facility and ultimately expose crew to toxic materials. Experiment cartridges containing toxic substances will therefore be required to include an amount of krypton tracer gas. Cartridge integrity is monitored by mass spectrometry analysis of the krypton peak for evacuated gases throughout processing. In case of ambiguous results, inspection of the cartridge through a glove-bag is anticipated. If a cartridge is believed to have leaked, the whole process chamber can be sealed off and transported to ground for decontamination.
Overheating in the electronics boxes due to malfunctioning components constitutes a fire hazard. All electronics boxes will therefore be equipped with temperature sensors. Anomalous temperatures will result in the immediate switch off of the facility. An alert signal will be issued to the crew.