The NASA scientists have to ensure the space station is clean and free from bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. They schedule routine cleaning functions of the facilities and equipment before launching them for various missions in the space. The crew members who are assigned to the International Space Station (ICC) usually spend 10 days in quarantine prior to their respective flights.
The scientists also monitor regularly the interior of the spacecrafts a process that was devised by Apollo operations. A group of astronomers from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, in California and other institutions analyzed the microbial environment on ICC and compared the findings to the bacteria found in uncontaminated rooms.
They published their results in the journal of Microbiome. The samples from the studies revealed the existence of opportunistic bacterial pathogens that can lead to skin infections and other inflammatory conditions. They found that the microorganisms in the space station are more harmful than those found on the Earth.
The findings help NASA scientists to develop a baseline from which the cleanliness of the space station will be conducted. The study enabled the researchers to detect the microbial species that have the potential to cause damage to the space equipment and astronauts. The scientists are also able to identify the specific areas that need more thorough cleaning.
Regular monitoring ensures to keep a close eye on the space station drinking water system. The process is conducted after every three months to guarantee the astronauts’ drinking water is free from the microorganisms. It’s said that the drinking water found in the space station are cleaner than any drink on Earth.
The scientists in the space station use the DNA hybridization and other techniques to classify the definite microorganisms though it’s still challenging to differentiate between related species. There is an ongoing study on to establish the type of organisms that specifically grow on the space station.
There have been numerous investigations of the microbial environment found on a space station with the intention of continued monitoring of the ICC to ensure safety and healthy environment for astronauts.