Study details germs on International Space Station

The International Space Station has a peculiar aroma, according to people who have been there. Fresh air isn't possible up there, and while a series of filters run constantly, it's not exactly germ-free. Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently conducted a study to find out what kind of germs are on the ISS, and they found a variety of nasty microscopic hitchhikers, not the least of which is Staphylococcus.

The researchers acquired a HEPA filter that had been operating on the ISS for 40 months, as well as a pair of bags of dust that had been swept up in the space station using a vacuum. A genetic analysis of the debris was conducted, and the researchers found high levels of microbial populations.

In comparison to the clean rooms on Earth that astronauts must spend some time in, the researchers found several varieties of critters that aren't present in the clean rooms. One example is Propionibacterium, while other discoveries were expected, such as bacteria that comes from skin.

This is only the start of the research, though. The scientists are looking into whether any of the microbes could be dangerous to astronauts, as well as the effect being in such an environment has on them. The data will be used to help shape future missions and technologies, including long trips to the red planet.

VIA: Washington Post