Planning some space travel? Don’t forget your microbes

For many years I have been worried about how space travel will affect microbiomes – of the space vehicles and of the residents (people, other animals, plants, etc).  This is one of the reasons we started Project MERCCURI and get involved in looking at the microbes on the International Space Station.  It is also why …

Nice series of papers on microbial ecology and space travel

Well, here is another benefit of automated Google Scholar searches. I think it is unlikely I would have found these new papers without such searches but these are fascinating and directly relevant to many aspects of work we are doing on Project MERCCURI.  A series of papers on microbial ecolog and space travel in the …

The 11.4 million mile swab kit

I’m proud to announce that the sample collection for the building science component of Project MERCCURI is complete! In early May, Koichi Wakata from JAXA (Japan’s space exploration agency) collected swabs swabs of surfaces aboard the International Space Station. Back in June last year, Jenna, Wendy and I went to the Johnson Space Center in …

Microbes from the built environment finally head to space, #spacemicrobes

After 1.5 years of collection events, culturing, identification, and selection of candidates our space microbes experiment finally is in orbit.  Our 48 microbes, collected from a variety of built environments on earth, are now whipping around the planet.  The rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral at 3:25pm EST yesterday.  In a …

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 …

Who are the microbes in your neighborhood? And some background for #AAASMoBe Symposium

Tomorrow all day there will be a meeting at AAAS HQ on “Microbiomes of the Built Environment“.  I will be speaking at the meeting, and this is one of my major research areas, so I am a bit biased, but the meeting is going to be great I think.  And it will be webcast live. …

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 …