NASA Reports Infection with Bacteria on the International Space Station

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On April 8th, a NASA report says that the scientist team from the ISS has found the surface of the space filled with microbes just like in an office or gym from Earth, and that could threaten astronauts’ health. The report appeared in the Journal Microbiome, and it says that the importance of knowing the composition of the microbial and fungal communities on the ISS, could help them to develop more safety measures of the long-term living and space travel.

How the Researchers Found Out about the Bacteria on the ISS?

In 14 months and three flights, the researchers had used traditional culture technique to analyze the surfaces from the ISS. Samples were collected from eight locations from the space station, like the toilet, sleeping quarters, the dining table, the viewing window, and the exercise platform.

Moreover, the purpose was to find out if the microbial and fungal culture were different between locations and time. After the examination, they found out that the fungal communities are stable, but the microbial populations are similar across locations, and they change with time. Also, the bacteria found on the ISS are associated with the humans; we are talking about Staphylococcus, which is located on the skin or in the nasal passage, Pantoea, Bacillus, and Enterobacter, that is associated with the human gastrointestinal tract.

However, this kind of bacteria is found in offices, gyms, and hospitals, and that means that the ISS has a similarity to other environments build by humans, and it’s shaping around peoples occupation.

Could the Presence of Bacteria on the International Space Station Affect the Astronauts?

Currently, on ISS are six astronauts, and if the bacteria could cause health problems on the crew, is unknown yet. There are a lot of factors that could make them sick or not, but the most important fact is the health status of each on the space station. Also, due to what they found, they will do further studies on the microbes, and find out how they function in space.

Finally, with the study of bacteria on the International Space Station, NASA can improve safety measures for human space habitation.


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