The International Space Station is like no other place on earth, and not just because it is not on Earth at all . The orbiting lab is inhabited by research teams that live there for months before being exchanged for new faces, and this poses a major cleanliness challenge.
It's not that astronauts are more insecure than the rest of them us. But they are definitely still human. Being human means carrying a whole range of microorganisms every day. Recent research has shown that the bacteria that humans spread to the ISS actually mutate, which poses a potential risk to future space visitors, but researchers are now testing a new antimicrobial coating that could help clean things up a bit.
In a new publication published in Frontiers in Microbiology researchers describe the testing of a new coating of silver and ruthenium, a platinum derivative. It has been found that elements such as silver kill microorganisms with high efficiency, and silver windings are used in a variety of applications, e.g. As in the water cooling, to prevent the growth of bacteria.
The coating that the researchers call AGXX was tested on one of the disgusting surfaces of the International Space Station: the bathroom door. The surfaces were tested after the coating had been applied for several months and the results were promising.
"After exposure to the ISS for 6 months, no bacteria could be found on AGXX-coated surfaces," says Professor Elisabeth Grohmann, senior author of the paper, according to a statement.
The tests were repeated between 1
"With prolonged exposure time, some bacteria escaped the antimicrobial effect," says Grohmann. "The antimicrobial test materials are static surfaces on which dead cells, dust particles and cell debris can accumulate over time and interfere with direct contact between the antimicrobial surface and the bacteria."
This work is particularly important due to the stress astronauts endure during their stay aboard the space station. Dramatic changes in daily life can affect the effectiveness of the human immune system, and flying into space is one of the most stressful things a person can experience.