The space station may be far away from the earth – free of microbes, it is not. Scientists have now cataloged the bacteria and fungi that settle on the surfaces in the Station.

are To be found, especially microorganisms, which can be brought with people in the compound, the Team reported in the journal “Microbiome”. Important these results are for future long-term missions into space, where germs could pose a huge risk – because the immune system of astronauts change in space and medical assistance is only possible to a limited extent.

The ISS orbits since the year 2000, permanently inhabited by changing crews in around 400 kilometers above the earth. More than 200 people were already there. The researchers Checinska Sielaff, of Washington State University had examined 24 samples were taken within a period of 14 months, three different crews. Eight places as dining table, sleeping cabin, toilet, walls, and Windows were taken into account.

the number and composition of the found fungi remained stable, and the bacteria changed as a result of the different riders on Board. Whether the detected microorganisms could be the people on the space station or the ISS itself is dangerous, still needed to be examined, said Sielaff. The most commonly occurring microbes, staphylococci (26%) and Enterobacteriaceae (23 percent). A further eleven percent belong to the group Bacillus.

Among other things, the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, it was found that usually harmless on human skin and mucous membrane is living, but also dangerous infections can cause. In addition, bacteria of the group of Enterobacter were detected, the occurrence in the human intestine and cause disease.

On earth, those bacteria were often in gyms, offices and hospitals, said Sielaff. “Whether these bacteria can make the astronauts sick, we do not know. It depends on several factors – the health condition of each individual astronauts, and of how these organisms in space.” Also the possible impact on the ISS are still unclear. Some of the detected microorganisms contribute to the decomposition of materials, said co-author Camilla Urbaniak.

researchers to Nitin Singh from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, had been demonstrated on the space station in a previous analysis of bacteria strains that are resistant to several antibiotics. The samples were taken in 2015, especially from an ISS toilet, but also from the Fitness area. The Team reported that some of the conditions in space such as weightlessness can contribute to the emergence of drug resistance. Also in this study, the specific hazard potential of the detected pathogens remained unclear.

Further research is necessary to the health of the astronauts and the function ability of the ISS to ensure durable, said Kasthuri Venkateswaran of the US space Agency, Nasa, co-author of the current analysis. “In view of possible future long-term missions, it is important to identify the types of microorganisms that can accumulate in the unusual, closed space environments.”


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Teodora Torrendo is an investigative journalist and is a correspondent for European Union. She is based in Zurich in Switzerland and her field of work include covering human rights violations which take place in the various countries in and outside Europe. She also reports about the political situation in European Union. She has worked with some reputed companies in Europe and is currently contributing to USA News as a freelance journalist. As someone who has a Masters’ degree in Human Rights she also delivers lectures on Intercultural Management to students of Human Rights. She is also an authority on the Arab world politics and their diversity.


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