A space bug has infected an ISS astronaut
The International Space Station (ISS) is rife with infectious bugs, a study has found.
The study, conducted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs, found five different strains of the bacteria Enterobacter, all of which were resistant to drugs and had a 79% rate of carrying disease. The highest rate of infection was around the station’s toilets, and the bacteria had a lot in common with similar bacteria found in medical facilities on Earth.
While the scientists behind the study insisted that these space bugs posed no threat to the ISS’ inhabitants or Earth, they admitted that they had only tested on dead samples, and so the bacteria could pose more (or less) of a threat than they thought. Currently, only one astronaut has been infected by anything, an individual described cryptically by the study as a “compromised patient” — which most likely means the individual was already ill for non-alien reasons.
The source of the infection remains uncertain, however earlier this year NASA shipped 20 mice up to the ISS to, amongst other things, test their poo. So, it’s quite possible there are ways Earth bugs could be sent to space. If the history of America has taught us anything, it’s that visitors to new frontiers bring far more infections than they are susceptible to.
The ISS is also currently celebrating its 20th birthday, as the first section of it was put in space on 20 November 1998. Its future is uncertain, however, as the Trump Administration will pull funding for the project in 2024 and reportedly plans to sell it to the private sector.
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Space bugs aren’t the only terrifying thing up in the ISS however, as German astronaut Alexander Gerst found on 20 November when he stumbled across a treasure trove of floppy disks in a locker. While floppy disks aren’t the most dangerous thing in the world, it does pose the question — when did they last have a tidy up there?
If ISS sounds like a strange place to live already, also consider the perpetual fidget spinners they have up there too.