According to what a new study has found, fungi and bacteria are all over the International Space Station, and they can form biofilms that promote antibiotic resistance and cause diseases. They can corroded even the spacecraft. 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.
NASA study revealed that bacteria invaded the International Space Station
The microbes that the NASA scientists discovered came mainly from humans, and they share some similarities with those found in offices and public buildings here on Earth. The study was published in the journal Microbiome, and it was the first to provide a comprehensive catalog of the fungi and bacteria that can be found lurking on interior surfaces in closed space systems.
“The ISS is a hermetically sealed closed system, subjected to microgravity, radiation, elevated carbon dioxide and the recirculation of air through HEPA filters, and is considered an ‘extreme environment’,” according to a senior research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the study’s authors, Dr Kasthuri Venkateswaran.
Bacteria on the ISS are not affected by extreme space conditions
Furthermore, the researcher noted that extreme environments do not influence these microbes, contrary to that they survive them and even thrive in them. There is a possibility that since the inception of the station these microbes that are present on the International Space Station could have been in existence, he mentioned, while there are others that came along with payloads or new astronauts that were sent there.
In addition to that, Dr. Venkateswaran mentioned that the indoor microbiome has such an influence on human health that it becomes more critical for astronauts during flights as their immunity gets altered. That happens because of the space flight indeed, but because of the lack of sophisticated medical interventions that are available on Earth as well.