The ISS faces health concerns: a study published in the journal Microbiome has just listed the bacteria and fungi present in the station.
One could imagine a space station as sanitized as an operating room. Yet it is not, as just revealed an article published in the journal Microbiome. NASA researchers have listed an alarming amount of bacteria and fungi on the interior surfaces of the ISS.
As many germs as in a gym
While a survey published last month indicated that half of the astronauts who had stayed onboard the ISS were affected by the herpes virus, this week we learned that they could be exposed to many other potential problems.
The researchers cataloged the germs found on board the station and especially noted a large presence of staphylococcus, pantoae (a kind of proteobacteria) and bacilli.
A discovery to improve security measures
To achieve such results, researchers used traditional culture techniques and methods of genetic sequencing. They were able to analyze samples collected during three flights over 14 months, in different places of the space station: the observation window, the toilets, the exercise platform, the table where the meals are taken and the sleeping space.
The organisms found are considered opportunistic pathogenic bacteria on Earth but it has not been proven that they can develop into diseases in astronauts aboard the ISS.
Consideration should be given to several factors including the health of each individual and how these organisms behave in space.
“Detecting these potentially disease-causing bacteria highlights the importance of continuing research to examine how these SSI microbes evolve in such an environment,” said Dr. Aleksandra Checinska Sielaff, the lead author of the study.
In addition to the health of the six astronauts currently on board, the deepening of this discovery could also serve us. As Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, also a scientist and co-author of the report, explains, “these results can also impact our understanding of other enclosed and confined spaces, such as clean rooms used in the medical or medical industry.”