There is a “diverse” bacteria collection abroad the International Space Station, shows a new research, while being miles from the Earth.
The research also noted remarkable similarity of the micro-organisms micro-organisms found at homes on earth with those found on the space station.
These were among the most important finding of a study that examined bacteria collected from 15 different spots on the International Space Station.
In addition to helping in learning about buildings on Earth buildings on Earth, this discovery would also guide future space exploration, said scientists. “Learning more about the microbial inhabitants of the ‘buildings’ in which we travel through space will take on increasing importance, as plans for human exploration continue, with the possibility of colonization of other planets and moons,” the authors write in the abstract of their paper, published in the journal PeerJ.
Because of anticipation that humans are building ships with the intention of carrying astronauts into deeper into the solar system, the study of how microbes survive in zero gravity assumes importance. In particular, it is crucial to avoid a process called panspermia – which entails carrying bacteria from earth to other planets, which could put an end up the planets hosting alien life transported from Earth.
The news of finding of bacteria atop the ISS was revealed a few days ago by a Russian cosmonaut and this research comes just days after that revelation.
There have been past studies that have concluded that some forms of bacteria grow better in space than they do on Earth. Reversing the process of the earlier researches where bacteria was brought from the ISS back to Earth, this study encouraged people from all over the U.S. to submit samples of the bacteria generally found in their homes, which were sent up to the ISS
“So ‘is it gross?’ and ‘will you see microbes from space?’ are probably the two most common questions we get about this work,” said author David Coil, a microbiologist at UC Davis. “As to the first, we are completely surrounded by mostly harmless microbes on Earth, and we see a broadly similar microbial community on the ISS. So it is probably no more or less gross than your living room.”
Regarding finding microbes from space, “since the ISS is completely enclosed, the microbes inside the station come from the people on the ISS and the supplies sent to them,” he said.
His observation was agreed to by Jenna Lang, former postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis and lead author on the study.
“The microbiome on the surfaces on the ISS looks very much like the surfaces of its inhabitants, which is not surprising, given that they are the primary source,” she said. “We were also pleased to see is that the diversity was fairly high, indicating that it did not look like a ‘sick’ microbial community.”
“Studying the microbial diversity on the ISS is not only of relevance to space exploration but also serves as an important comparison to buildings on Earth because the ISS has many novel features such as limited influx of microbes,” said Jonathan Eisen, a professor at UC Davis and another author on the study.
(Adapted from Independent)