Microbes in space


A recent report by Professor Rakesh Mogul in association with Gregory A. Barding, Jr., and 22 other co-authors (university students) revealed that in the clean chambers of spacecraft, specific microbes found a way to survive even in harsh climates like the zero-gravity space. 

It was not understood then what the reasons were for such a scenario. Proper hygiene needs to be maintained by the scientists to ensure no fake signs of life remain on the spacecraft, as this can create unnecessary confusion and waste a lot of precious time of our researchers who take so much pain to find out if there is life anywhere else.

The study has revealed that the bacteria found on the spacecraft was eating the chemicals applied to kill it. The survival mechanism of these microorganisms is spellbounding, the chemical considered to be poisonous for them was accepted as food and a source of nutrition. It looks like there is no possible way to keep the bacteria away from any place that is accessible to the human race. When a space vehicle could not counter its invasion what should we expect in the hospitals, our homes or other such places?

In the mail sent to NTS, NASA made it very clear that the organization did not wish to contaminate the environment of Mars by Earthly bacteria, but it looks like the clean rooms or the clean room suits cannot restrain the multiplying capability of bacteria and its survival skills. 

Any expedition to harness the life on a foreign plant would fail if we were carrying our signs of life along. Though the air is filtered, the equipment is regularly sprayed with a special disinfectant. Still, bacteria could sneak in the spacecraft. As per a study, this is not enough to eliminate bacteria from space shuttles, certain types of bacteria can feed on these chemicals.

California State Polytechnic University published a report in the journal Astrobiology stating that Acinetobacter – a species of bacteria often found in sterilized areas like clean rooms and hospitals can make the spacecraft its home. The bacteria has been seen on multiple spacecraft including the ISS. Acinetobacter is ranked as the world’s deadliest bacteria by WHO.

The bacteria samples collected from NASA’s spacecraft was collected and starved for ordinary nutrients but given pure ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and Kleeno30 – chemicals usually used in floor cleaners. The bacteria easily survived in all the mixtures it was exposed to. The research, however, has no solution to solve the problem but identifying the problem in the first place itself is the first step to a solution.