Microbial Characterization of Free Floating Condensate aboard the Mir Space Station
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Three samples of humidity condensate that had accumulated behind panels aboard the Russian space station Mir were collected and returned to earth for analysis. As these floating masses of liquid come into contact with the astronauts and the engineering systems, they have the potential to affect both crew health and systems performance. Using a combination of culturing techniques, a wide variety of organisms were isolated included Escherichia coli, Serratia marcescens, and a presumed Legionella species. In addition, microscopic analysis indicated the presence of protozoa, dust mites, and spirochetes. These findings suggest the need for more comprehensive microbial analysis of the environment through the use of new methodologies to allow a more thorough risk assessment of spacecraft.
KeywordsAutomate Identification System Ciliated Protozoan Sabouraud Agar Buffer Charcoal Yeast Extract Module Heat Exchanger
The authors thank astronauts David Wolf, M.D., and Andrew S.W. Thomas, Ph.D., for the collection of the free condensate during the NASA 6 and 7 missions. We thank Alekandr Victorov, Ph.D., Natalia Novakova, Ph.D., and the Institute for Biomedical Problems in Moscow, Russia. The authors also thank the Space Shuttle Program Office and the Microbiology Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center. This study was supported by NASA contract NAS9-97005.
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