After years of shared space, air and bacteria aboard the ISS, NASA has audited the microbes residing in the station and it is not good.....
A whopping 220 people have ventured into the ISS from Earth, bringing a bevy of harmful microbes with them from Earth which can adapt and thrive in the ISS environment, but it has taken until now to survey the damage.
The sample locations include the viewing window, toilet, exercise platform, dining table, and sleeping quarters, the extensive study measured the station's microbial community over the course of 14 months.
What they found was less than savoury.
The following is a short catalogue of the most prominent bacterial nasties and their share of all findings including:
- Staphylococcus (26%)
- Enterobacter (23%)
- Bacillus (11%)
The most abundant fungus is Rhodotorula which can cause infection, making up 40%.
This proves alarming as the dangers of a jeopardised immune system due to space life are now under threat of serious illness. The microbes can create illness ranging from severe diarrhea and vomiting to impetigo, cellulitis, and toxic shock syndrome even with regular medical care.
Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a microbiologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: "This is even more important for astronauts during spaceflight, as they have altered immunity and do not have access to the sophisticated medical interventions available on Earth."
This may prove to complicate our future plans of living further in the deep unknown health and equipment wise.
"In addition to understanding the possible impact of microbial and fungal organisms on astronaut health, understanding their potential impact on spacecraft will be important to maintain structural stability of the crew vehicle during long term space missions when routine indoor maintenance cannot be as easily performed." says Camilla Urbaniak, a microbiologist at NASA.
So not only will the microbes deteriorate the health of astronauts, but they can eat away at the facilities and equipment themselves.
"Also, biofilm formation on the ISS could decrease infrastructure stability by causing mechanical blockages, reducing heat transfer efficiency, and inducing microbially influenced corrosion,"
Forgive us for not wanting to visit any time soon...