back to article NASA fungus problem puts theory of 'Martian mushrooms' on toast

Festering fungus has become a problem way down in the bowels of NASA, and could lead to false identification of extraterrestrial material. Research (PDF) presented at the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference revealed that, in one clean room at least, NASA has a bit of an issue with earthly fungi. Scientists at the NASA …

Life finds a way...

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Are they ..ahh.. Psilocybe Cubensis you've used in your photo there, ElReg?

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Pint

"...swabs taken..."

"...but swabs taken from the floor, a table, the inside of a laminar flow bench used to process meteorites and a nitrogen filter all produced fungal growths."

Swabs. -> reminds me of 'The Phantom of Heilbronn'.

Wiki: "The Phantom of Heilbronn....was a hypothesized unknown female serial killer whose existence was inferred from DNA evidence found at numerous crime scenes in Austria, France and Germany from 1993 to 2009. ...The only connection between the crimes was DNA, ...the DNA recovered at the crime scenes had already been present on the cotton swabs used for collecting DNA samples; they belonged to a woman who worked at the factory where they were made."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_of_Heilbronn

Maybe. Maybe not. Worth considering, and double-checking.

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Re: "...swabs taken..."

What! An Austrian woman put the fungus there?

How did she get in?

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Holmes

Re: "...swabs taken..."

So, you're saying the samples were taken using already moldy swabs?

On the other hand, that would be the PERFECT alibi for an actual serial killer!

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diagnosis

sounds like Texas Fungus Infatuation

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Environmental monitoring

I work for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and have spent many, uncomfortable, hours in cleanrooms, servicing equipment, and doing particle counting to assess the air quality. There is always regular environmental monitoring going on: swabbing surfaces, sampling the air, and the people's clean-room clothing, putting sample onto agar and seeing if they grow. I'd be very surprised if NASA *weren't* doing the same. So any contamination should be picked up fairly quickly. In the pharma industry, contamination in injectable drug products leads to the dreaded product recall, and damage to reputation like you wouldn't believe...

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Re: particle counting

"Two hundred million, eight thousand and five, two hundred million, eight thousand and six, two hundred million, eight thousand and seven ..."

"Hey fedoraman, would you like a cup of tea?"

"Ooh yeah! Nothing like a good cup of tea!"

"No, nothing like a good cup of tea."

Sluuuurp!

"Two hundred million, eight thou ... um ... aw! One, two, three"

Thank you Eccles and Bluebottle for the script.

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Bah!

"NASA astrobiologist Daniel Glavin, author of a paper concerning amino acids in meteorites told Science magazine that the findings had caused him to rethink his research, with the acids possibly having a more earthly origin."

Or, to quote verbatim from an imagined tape of the statement: "Buggering bollocky bastard! That's my Nobel flushed down the pan! And f*ck that f*cking lab cleaning service! I'm totally suing somebody over this fiasco!"

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