The Worldwide Area Station Will get a Clear Invoice of Well being. Regardless of a Few Opportunistic Microbes, the Station is “Protected” for Astronauts

In a latest examine printed in Microbiome, a staff of researchers led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory carried out a five-year first-of-its-kind examine investigating the microbiome (environmental profile) of the Worldwide Area Station (ISS). The aim of the examine was to handle “the introduction and proliferation of doubtless dangerous microorganisms into the microbial communities of piloted spaceflight and the way this might have an effect on human well being”, in keeping with the paper.

“Though our survey discovered a number of opportunistic microbes, we concluded that the ISS is a secure surroundings for the astronauts,” stated Dr. Crystal Jaing, who’s a biologist on the Lawrence Livermore Nationwide Laboratory (LLNL), and a co-author on the examine. “We now have discovered that the microbiome of the ISS surfaces is secure and that many of the microbiome is related to human pores and skin.”

The investigation encompassed two main research, Microbial Monitoring (MT)-1 and MT-2, spanning from 2015 to 2020. MT-1 was a 14-month examine inspecting microbial communities from eight surfaces on the ISS over the course of three astronaut missions, whereas MT-2 expanded upon MT-1 by inspecting the identical surfaces over one other 14-month interval utilizing 4 subsequent astronaut flights. Samples had been collected with sterile wipes by resident astronauts over the course of each research.

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The examine’s outcomes confirmed that two bacterial and fungal species, Staphylococcus sp. and Malassezia sp., had been probably the most characterised on the ISS. Neither of these organisms are dangerous, and the general ISS floor microbiome was monopolized by human pores and skin organism associations.

“Total, the ISS floor composition was extraordinarily secure past just a few small adjustments throughout our five-year examine,” stated Dr. Jaing. “It’s a dynamic course of, identical to the human physique. The ISS antimicrobial resistance gene profiles additionally had been secure over time, with no variations over the span of the MT-1 and MT-2 research. Because of this the ISS microbiome doesn’t have any new antibiotic-resistant genes, which is safer for the astronauts.”

Whereas this examine was carried out utilizing samples returned to Earth from the ISS, NASA can observe microbes on the ISS in actual time and can be trying into actual time microbial monitoring on future spacecraft, as effectively.

The soccer field-sized ISS is at present house to seven astronauts from the US, Russia, and Japan, which is the utmost variety of astronauts the ISS can accommodate for lengthy durations. For the reason that first module of the ISS was launched in 1998, 263 astronauts from 20 international locations have visited the ISS, as of October 2022. Whereas the US and Russia take up the majority of those numbers, people have additionally hung out on the ISS from Japan, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Nice Britain, Israel, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and United Arab Emirates.

As at all times, preserve doing science & preserve trying up!

Featured Picture: NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, who lived on the ISS from Could to September 2017, is seen amassing samples for the examine by swabbing ISS surfaces. (Credit score: NASA)

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