Wherever there are humans, there are microbes, too. Bacteria and fungi live all around us, in our homes, offices, industrial areas, the outdoors – even in space. People literally could not live without these tiny organisms, many of which are beneficial.
The trick is limiting the number of potentially harmful ones, particularly in a contained environment such as a spacecraft. So from the launch of the very first module of the International Space Station, NASA has monitored its microbial community.
Because the station is an enclosed system, the only way that microbes get there is hitching a ride on the contents of resupply spacecraft from Earth and on arriving astronauts. The NASA Johnson Space Center Microbiology Laboratory puts a lot of effort into knowing which microbes ride along.
Video Credit: NASA Johnson