Ouch! Drinking Water on International Space Station Contaminated by Bacteria – All Pages

ESA/NASA

A new study by scientists has revealed the presence of bacteria in drinking water aboard the International Space Station. ESA Italy astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti poses in the International Space Station’s Cupola module to mark his 200th day in space.

Nationalgeographic.co.id—In an effort to keep water clean for space missions, scientists from Arizona State University Biodesign Institute Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics conducted a new study on drinking water in International Space Station.

The study, led by Joseon Yang, aims to protect clean drinking water for astronauts on space missions. Together with his colleagues, he will carry out an analysis on the population bacteria what they found from the drinking water in the ISS (International Space Station).

Bacteriabacteria Different populations will be characterized by each population. Thus, it will be possible to determine how the characteristics of microbes are important for the health of astronomers. Because it is known that the integrity of space habitats can change during prolonged exposure to microgravity.

This is certainly not an easy thing to do. It has been shown that microbes adapting to microgravity can change their characteristics dramatically.

Reported from Tech Explorist, Joseon Yang said, “Polymicrobial interactions are complex and may be unstable over time. Our study provides an in-depth phenotypic analysis of isolates bacteria single and multispecies obtained from water systems ISS over the years to understand long-term microbial interactions and their adaptation to the microgravity environment.”

The results of the study conducted by Joseon Yang and his colleagues have been published in the journal npj Biofilms and Microbiomes on September 6, 2021 by taking the title Longitudinal characterization of multispecies microbial populations recovered from spaceflight potable water.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield inspects a bag of drinking water.

NASA TV

Astronaut Chris Hadfield inspects a bag of drinking water.

As we know that, bacteria can cause infectious diseases in humans. When they clump together to form biofilms, they can cause infectious diseases and contaminate drinking water sources. Of course this is not what we expected. Especially for astronomers who will carry out their space missions.

For this reason, the control of bacteria in complex microbial ecosystems is indispensable, and the management of biofilm formation will be an important challenge for researchers.

“The results from our research will be able to improve the microbial risk assessment of the man-made environment both in space and on Earth,” Yang said.

The water purification system on the ISS, also known as Environmental Control and Life Support System. This system is used to clean wastewater through a three-step cleaning process. This process will obtain drinking water from recycled urine, wastewater, and condensation through distillation, filtration, catalytic oxidation, and iodine treatment. Unfortunately, from the recent analysis of water samples on the ISS, contamination has been found. This is probably due to the environmental flora embedded in the water system itself.

Also Read: New Cracks in Space Station Worries Scientists

A biofilm is a dense collection of multispecies cells, which clump together in a residue that forms on the surface.  They can cause a variety of health problems and have a corrosive effect on many materials, including stainless steel, making them a threat to the International Space Station's water supply system.

Arizona State University

A biofilm is a dense collection of multispecies cells, which clump together in a residue that forms on the surface. They can cause a variety of health problems and have a corrosive effect on many materials, including stainless steel, making them a threat to the International Space Station’s water supply system.

The number of microbes found in these water samples was the same as those found in drinking water on Earth. Of course this condition makes scientists feel worried. This is because environmental conditions in outer space can increase the potential threat of these organisms. Moreover, scientists also found a strong resistance in bacterial isolates to several antimicrobial compounds, including antibiotics.

The findings of this study are helpful in addressing the formidable challenge of ensuring safe and clean drinking water. So that it can support the health of astronomers who carry out space missions, especially for those with very long durations.

You might think of the ISS as a sterile workspace, but where there are humans, there are also microorganisms and previous studies have shown various bacteria and fungi make their homes in orbiting laboratories.

With this research, it has also provided important information to improve the functionality of engineered water systems on Earth that can be useful for the benefit of industry and the safety of the general public.

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