Healthy humans will survive.
Everything that goes to the International Space Station gets clean-roomed to within an inch of its life, but humans are leaving behind a considerable microbial footprint. That's the finding of research conducted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and it's a serious problem, because one of the health impacts of a stint on the …
Everything can be sterilised - you just need to nuke it from orbit...
Two problems with this statement.
Firstly, what happens if the item you're trying to nuke is already in orbit? Surely you now need to take off and nuke it from the next solar system. It's the only way to be sure.
Secondly, I've seen the documentary Godzilla. Sometimes when you nuke things, they just get bigger, and angrier.
Humans can't be clean roomed to the same degree, organisms multiply & filters concentrate. No-one on the ISS ever had a cold, flu or GI upset ?
As an example I worked in a building with forced air ventilation, After Chernobyl, although the local levels of radiation were only transiently raised, the ventilation filters were quite noticeably radioactive having purified many building volumes of outside air every 24hrs.
are simply bacteria that are harmless under most circumstances, and happily coexist with us on our skin or in our bowels. Only when there is serious suppression of the immune system can they become a problem (i.e. when there is an opportunity). It should come as no surprise that these creatures were found, and I would go along with the advice on the cover of the book
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
"Oh, that hack rag"
So what happens if you're planning to spend a long time in space, I dunno, lets say 6 years? Your immune system could become pretty suppressed by then, and that insignificant cold could be come a killer.
If you're going to spend billions of dollars sending a manned ship to another planet, you kinda want the crew to arrive in top health and not crawling for the lemsip.
I don't understand though, why does the immune system get suppressed in spaaaaace?
"I don't understand though, why does the immune system get suppressed in spaaaaace?"
Don't have a ready answer to that although I do know all sorts of biological systems seem to be affected by weightlessness + ?. In particular calcium metabolism/mobilization. Calcium levels have a direct and profound effect on lots of systems in the body.
Given the complexity of the immune system and the known effects of various interventions I'd think it might be quite a time before all of the possible effects might be know.
One, rather obvious one, given that sitting on top of a giant firework is in the job description is stress. This is known to have +ve & -ve effects on the immune system.
For opportunistic pathogens to cause a problem doesn't require suppression of the immune system; it can simply be that something that's harmless in one place is harmful in another. I've recently found this through personal experience, having had shoulder surgery in which one of the incisions happened to pass through a hair follicle, thus pushing propionibacterium acnes (the pathogen that causes acne, but otherwise lives as a harmless commensal in hair follicles) deeper into my body, causing an obvious majorly inflamed area and a risk of arthritis in two years if it got into the joint capsule. The treatment was six weeks of intravenous antibiotics. I normally shake off infections fairly quickly, so it's not as if my immune system was compromised.
(There's an interesting experimental preventative treatment for this problem, by the way: seal the skin with cyanoacrylate, thus gluing the bacteria into place.)
I guess they'll carry quite a range of antibiotics, and a quick google search indicates that crew medical officers are trained to insert IV lines. I don't know what they'd do about the equivalent of a drip chamber in zero-g, but I'm sure someone's found a way round that one.
" why does the immune system get suppressed in spaaaaace? "
Because on earth your system is constantly at war fighting off new threats and evolves with the bugs. What happens to your muscles if you don't exercise? The bugs continue to change at home even if you aren't there.
"Because on earth your system is constantly at war fighting off new threats and evolves with the bugs."
On the spacecraft that brought me to this hell hole of a planet, we always bring a few shovels of dirt from the home world up with us and throw them around the spacecraft just to be sure. And we make sure our ships are infected with our version of rats & cockroaches too, just to sweeten the sauce.
As one of our philosophers who once had a human named Nietzsche as a slave always said, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.
"I don't understand though, why does the immune system get suppressed in spaaaaace?"
Long term exposure to microgravity can cause all sorts of interesting effects due to changes in the distribution of fluids throughout the body, such as causing poor eyesight because of increased intra-ocular pressure in the eyes. I imagine a lack of gravity could play merry hell with circulation of lymph in the lymphatic system, which is a vital part of the immune system.
I attended a fascinating lecture by the lovely boffin who lead the team that worked out how bacteria communicate. And it showed how bacteria that are always on us, like strep, when they determine that our defenses are low and the bacteria have sufficient numbers to overwhelm them, know then to attack.
So in that way a suppressed immune system is indeed a problem.
But the microbes on the filters are still irrelevant since the sources of the microbes are the astronauts themselves. If the immune system is suppressed to the point the microbes can infect, the infection sources will be the skins of the astronauts.
So there is a sense in which the first poster was right: the healthy ones will survive the unhealthy ones will die. Eliminate the microbes on the space station won't fix that. Only figuring out what needs to happen to boost the immune system back to normal will.
DUN DUN DUN
The planet earth, now over run with tiny opportunistic martian bacteria slowly succumb to the microbial invasion fleet that so valiantly succeeded where their once hosts failed. Man was beaten, slowly sinking underground into sealed bunkers. Hiding for it's very existence, hoping one day to emerge again into the sun lights red glow.
"The chances of bacteria coming from Mars is a million to one he said, the chances of bacteria coming from Mars is a million to one but still they came"
DUN DUN DUN
"So diphtheria and yoghurt are close relatives? I always suspected there was something dodgy about yoghurt..."
AFAIK the connection between Corynebacterium & yogurt is indirect. One Corynebacterium species is used in the manufacture of glutamate and then that glutamate is used in various foodstuffs including yogurt.
"One of the most studied species is C. glutamicum, whose name refers to its capacity to produce glutamic acid in aerobic conditions. It is used in the food industry as monosodium glutamate in the production of soy sauce and yogurt."
Slight amend. There's no way you could remove all bacteria and keep the wannabe astro/cosmonaut alive.
Off topic, isn't about bloody time we have single word for space travellers, instead of country variations? I vote for stellanaut because it's Latin for star and sounds like beer.
The issue's not new. Mir was filled with mold and fungus by the time of its decommissioning. Visitors commented the biggest impression left on them by Mir was its olfactory funk (as opposed to the works of George Clinton).
Per this article, "Visitors have found numerous fungal patches with hues between green and black, feeding behind control panels, slowly digesting the ship's air conditioner, communications unit, and myriad other surfaces. Pull out an insulation panel on Mir, and you'll probably find fungus. ...
Squinting to set his sights on the passing Earth below, this space explorer instead focused on a thick living mat that had made its way up the window's hard quartz surface, nearly obliterating any view. ...
Linenger, who is a medical doctor and holds a doctorate in epidemiology, used a standard NASA test to determine fungal counts on surfaces. For the shuttle, he explained, the samples would be placed in a medium so their growth could be tracked over several days. But on Mir, he said, he couldn't do the count because the container was overgrown in half a day. "
The ISS took lessons from Mir's fungal issues, but there's a limit. It's humid and warm in the ISS, and has been filled with humans shedding all sorts of lovely skin cells and other biological fodder for years.
Sterilization doesn't seem to be working. By leaving a vacant, resource rich (for mirco flora & fauna) environment we give whatever gets there first a utopia to grow unchecked within.
Maybe we should identify what we don't mind (physically, not mentally) sharing our livings spaces with and encouraging it/them to colonise that environment? We can then compensate for any effects.
"highly virulent, yet totally harmless bacteria."
I suggest you check the meaning of "virulent" and try again
Virulent:- (of a disease or poison) extremely severe or harmful in its effects.
synonyms: poisonous, toxic, venomous, noxious, deadly, lethal, fatal, mortal, terminal, death-dealing, life-threatening, dangerous, harmful, injurious, pernicious, damaging, destructive, unsafe; contaminating, polluting; (literary)deathly, nocuous, mephitic; (archaic) baneful
highly infectious, highly infective, highly contagious, infectious, infective, contagious, rapidly spreading, communicable, transmittable, transmissible, spreading, malignant, uncontrollable, pernicious, pestilential;
severe, extreme, violent, dangerous, harmful, lethal, life-threatening;
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