Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

ISS Surface As Littered With Microbes As A Gym, Claims NASA's Scientists

Biofilms That May Infect Astronauts, Corrode Metal FOUND Teeming on ISS – Study The International Space Station Is Invested With ‘Disease-Inducing’ Bacteria
Sandra Phillips | 10 April, 2019, 05:42

It appears debris caused by A-SAT (anti-satellite) missile tests is not the only thing endangering the International Space Station. The station was built in 1998, and since then it has been orbiting around 250 miles above the Earth, more than 222 astronauts being its visitors and up to six resupply missions a year up until August 2017.

Bacteria and fungi have begun breeding on the International Space Station (ISS), leading to the formation of antibiotic-resistant biofilms that could infect astronauts and destroy infrastructure, according to a new study. Just like any other communal space in which humans find themselves, it too could pose a threat to our health.

They included organisms that are considered opportunistic pathogens on Earth.

"Specific microbes in indoor spaces on Earth have been shown to impact human health", said Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, the study's co-author.

In addition to the danger of disease, the forming bacteria could lead to mechanical blockages on the station's infrastructure as it causes "microbial-induced" corrosion back on Earth. The most prominent bacteria were Staphylococcus, Pantoea and Bacillus.

Astronauts on board took swabs of eight locations on the station over a 14-month period, including from the toilet, exercise platform, dining table and a mattress in the sleeping quarters.

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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. 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.

"Regardless, the detection of possible disease-causing organisms highlights the importance of further studies to examine how these ISS microbes function in space", said Dr Checinska Sielaff, the study's first author. The authors suggest that these temporal differences may be due to the different astronauts on board the ISS.

The authors explain that this could cause problems for the astronauts if they become infected, because biofilms are known to promote resistance to bacteria.

Explaining "the potential ability to form biofilms and the magnitude of actual biofilm formation on ISS surfaces is important during long-term space missions to maintain structural stability of the crew vehicle when routine indoor maintenance can not be easily performed", the report reads.

Dr Venkateswaran said: "Our study provides the first comprehensive catalogue of the bacteria and fungi found on surfaces in closed space systems and can be used to help improve safety measures that meet NASA requirements for deep space human habitation".

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