by David Szondy, June 28th, 2019
Mold spores commonly found aboard the International Space Station (ISS) turn out to be radiation resistant enough to survive 200 times the X-ray dose needed to kill a human being. Based on experiments by a team of researchers led by Marta Cortesão, a microbiologist at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, the new study indicates that sterilizing interplanetary spacecraft may be much more difficult than previously thought.
If science fiction films are anything to go by, one popular image of spacecraft is that they are so spotlessly clean that they make a hospital surgical theater look like a sewage treatment plant. However, real manned craft that have been occupied for any length of time, like the ISS, turn out to be anything but pristine.
The ISS is a collection of sealed cans inhabited by people who spend every minute of the day sweating, touching things, and exhaling moist air. Even with regular cleaning and a life support system designed to keep things under control, the result is a constant battle against mold and bacteria.
That’s already bad enough and poses health hazards to astronauts as they breathe in spores and the like, but Cortesão’s team’s work on Aspergillus and Pennicillium, which are the two most common fungi on the ISS, indicate that getting rid of them is even tougher than thought – and that they may even be able to live outside the station.
Read more: https://newatlas.com/iss-mold-radiation/60343/