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Traces of Sea Plankton Found on Surface of International Space Station


Image credit: NASA

Scientists have made a surprising discovery when they were examining samples taken from the exterior surface of the International Space Station (ISS)-traces of sea plankton and other microbes growing on the surface of the illuminators. More interestingly, it appears that they could have been living in such an environments for years.

This intriguing discovery was made by ISS cosmonauts during their routine spacewalk around the satellite. They took the surface samples and then analyzed the samples using high-precision equipment as part of a so-called “Test” experiment, ITAR-TASS stated. The scientists were then confirmed that these organisms are able to live in space regardless of the hostile conditions experienced. What’s more, some of the results suggested that these organisms can even develop in the vacuum of space.

 “The experiment shows absolutely unique results,” says Vladimir Solovyev, chief of the Russian ISS orbital mission. He says that further investigation is certainly required, however, he admits that he is puzzled as to how the organisms have been arrived on the surface of the ISS since they are not native to the launch site.

 “[Plankton in] such phases of development is discovered on the surface of the ocean. It is not characteristic to Baikonur,” explained Solovyev, referring to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where crew and cargo are launched for the ISS. It turns out that there are rising air currents that settle on the surface of the ISS.

Solovyev notes that the surface of the station is heavily polluted due to the engines from delivery spacecrafts and other factors. Hence, crew members have initiated a cleanup task to put the illuminators in order.