So about those #spacemicrobes from the built environment?

Yesterday was to have been the day that our collection of 48 microbes, collected from built environments around the country, were to blast off into space and try growing in microgravity.  This would be followed by swabbing of the space station performed by the astronauts.  We plan to analyze these swabs using bacterial, archaeal, and …

Educator Guide for Project MERCCURI (#spacemicrobes)

From the start, Project MERCCURI has involved classrooms and students in the process of citizen science.  Many of our samples were collected by students and the microbes going into space from JPL were voted on by a number of high-school classrooms. Now we have a “Project MERCCURI Educator’s Guide” which contains a detailed overview of …

Antimicrobial coating on a commercial polymer…IN SPACE

This study by C. Balagna et al from 2012 looks at the application of their product on spacecraft. They covered a commercial polymer generally used in aerospace with an antimicrobial made of silver and silica using radio frequencies. This was done in an attempt to mitigate the amount of contamination of spacecraft surfaces. When in space, …

Project MERCCURI (#spacemicrobes) set to launch this Sunday morning

After over a year of collecting and screening hundreds of samples from the built environment we have just sent our collection of 48 “finalists” to Florida for the upcoming launch.  Samples have come from all over the country including NFL/NBA/MBL games, sites of historic interest (e.g. the Liberty Bell), and a number of schools.  These …

Not-So-Clean Rooms

In researching previous studies conducted on microbes in space for Project MERCURRI, I ran across an interesting microbiology diversity study done on European Spacecraft-Associated (ESA) clean rooms in the Herschel Space Observatory. Historically, clean rooms are supposedly “sterile” environments that are used for the building and maintenance of spacecrafts, as directed by the UN’s Outer Space planetary …

NASA report of interest (from 2012): Genetic inventory (of spacecraft) task final report

Just discovered this report: BEACON eSpace at Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Genetic inventory task final report.  It is a summary of genetic studies of microbes found on various spacecraft and associated facilities. Abstract: Contaminant terrestrial microbiota could profoundly impact the scientific integrity of extraterrestrial life-detection experiments. It is therefore important to know what organisms persist on spacecraft …

Altered gene expression by Candida albicans in space

Sometimes blogging on microBEnet feels a bit like a MadLib.   There are certain recurring themes that fit the model well. For example: __________ (microbe) was recently found to do _______________ (cool thing)… IN SPAAAAACE!  This has implications for future manned spaceflight missions. So here we go for today: The fungal pathogen Candida albicans was recently …

Antibiotic Effectiveness in Space Project

It’s becoming increasingly well-established that microbes behave differently in microgravity than on Earth… that’s one of the justifications for our own Project MERCCURI.   Some previous work has focused on the ability of microbes to survive higher-than-normal levels of antibiotics when grown in space, though the mechanism for this is not at all understood. This article …

“Researchers succeed in predicting the spread of microbes in spacecraft”

The study of how aerosols disperse and settle is an important part of the microbiology of the built environment and there are several groups working on the topic.  However, this story was the first I’ve heard about modeling this process in zero gravity.   The settling of aerosols in particular is quite different in spacecraft than …