NASA has issued a warning regarding the ISS being littered with bacteria. It seems that space is not the ideal condition for hygienic conditions to flourish so care is of the essence.
Even though the ISS is so far away from the earth, its environment is abundant with harmful bacteria. A new study found much to the surprise of the scientists, that astronauts may have to tidy up their cabins aboard the ISS with a vacuum cleaner if they want to stay away from such maladies as skin infections. The strange thing is that these selfsame bacterial components are benign on earth but become highly pathegenic in outer space.
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It seems these satanic bugs like the new breeding grounds that are the ISS. Although that novel medium faces minimum gravity, radioactivity, high carbon dioxide levels and the constant presence of individuals, these tenacious germs have made it their legitimate home.
The findings of this study published in the journal Microbiome.
After the dust from the ISS was analyzed under the microscope, it was found to have a large population of Actinobacteria which are responsible for skin infections. Two other rabid bacteria samples were also found alongside the Actinobacteria.
This carries a dire warning for future astronauts aboard the ISS. Since the next step is a mission to Mars, we humans will have to be even more careful regarding germs. The only method of fighting these germs is by cultivating a different microbiome in the ISS milieu.
While we cannot completely get rid of all bacteria, we can see to it that innocuous types are present instead of those which happen to be vectors. A culture of these bacteria on a series of petri dishes would come in handy in identifying their exact nature and how to eliminate them with surety.
"Studying the microbial community on the space station helps us better understand the bacteria present there, so that we can identify species that could potentially damage equipment or pose harms to astronaut health. It also helps us identify areas that need more rigorous cleaning," said Kasthuri Venkateswaran, who led the research at JPL with collaborators Aleksandra Checinska, the study's first author, and Parag Vaishampayan.
Some of the microorganisms indeed do pose a risk in case of astronauts as far as skin infections and other maladies are concerned. The problem is that you do not have recourse to a hospital in the conditions of outer space.
The dust in the air and gunk collecting in the corners of the ISS were tested later on. The issue is that while on earth air keeps being renewed via ventilation, on the ISS, it is re-circulated which means that nothing changes in its nature for ages.
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By using state of the art methods of analysis, scientists may build a better picture of bacteria populations in outer space. This in turn has implications for the astronauts that will be spending their valuable time on board the ISS and other missions in the future.