February 20, 2020 | 6:23 PM IST

NASA worries as bacteria, fungi thrive at ISS threatening astronauts’ health

It turns out that the International Space Station (ISS) that is home to astronauts in space is contaminated and no longer safe for the astronauts.

NASA researchers recently confirmed that the ISS is infested with microbes, just like we have them in our homes. The identified bacteria include strains of staphylococcus, pantoea and bacillus which are considered really dangerous even on Earth, says a report published in Microbiome journal. The experts feel that a stronger system needs to be developed to meet the hygienic safety on the ISS. This is important as the travelling astronauts suffer from low immunity after being in space for some time and have no sophisticated medical facility there as is easily available back home. And some of these bacteria are considered to be “opportunistic” with the potential of causing health problems.

The experts are of the opinion that bacteria are commonly found on human skin and in the nasal tract must have reached the ISS with so many astronauts moving in and out of the spacecraft. Bacteria and fungi have taken up space in the spaceship and are found in good quantities such as the viewing window, toilets, dining area, exercise platforms and the sleeping quarters, etc.

The researchers are worried that microgravity and radiation from space could prompt mutations that might threaten crew members not just on the International Space Station but future long-haul crewed missions as well.

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