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NASA is Concerned Over The Strains of Toilet Microbes on ISS

Using computer analyses, they predicted a 79 per cent probability that they may potentially cause disease

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

NASA is concerned over the strains of the bacterium Enterobacter, identified on the toilets of the International Space Station’s (ISS), which can raise potential health implications for future missions, say Indian-origin scientists at the US space agency.

Five strains of ‘Enterobacter’ bacterium isolated from the space toilet and the exercise platform on the ISS in March 2015 were investigated in a study led by a team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), US.

Genome sequencing of the samples revealed that all five strains belonged to a single species, Enterobacter bugandensis (E.bugandensis).

While these were not pathogenic to humans, E.bugandensis was linked to disease in neonates and a compromised patient, who were admitted to three different hospitals (in east Africa, Washington state and Colorado), the researchers said.

“Given the multi-drug resistance results for these ISS E.bugandensis genomes and the increased chance of pathogenicity we have identified, these species potentially pose important health considerations for future missions,” said lead author Nitin Singh from NASA-JPL Caltech.

“However, it is important to understand that the strains found on the ISS were not virulent, which means they are not an active threat to human health, but something to be monitored,” he added.

NASA, tissue
Genome sequencing of the samples revealed that all five strains belonged to a single species, Enterobacter bugandensis (E.bugandensis). Flcikr

For the study, published in the journal BMC Microbiology, the team compared the ISS strains to all publicly available genomes of 1,291 Enterobacter strains collected on Earth.

They found that the ISS isolates had similar antimicrobial resistance patterns to the three clinical strains found on Earth and that they included 112 genes involved in virulence, disease and defence.

Using computer analyses, they predicted a 79 per cent probability that they may potentially cause disease.

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“Whether or not an opportunistic pathogen like E.bugandensis causes disease and how much of a threat it is, depends on a variety of factors, including environmental ones,” said Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Senior Research Scientist at the JPL.

“Further in vivo studies are needed to discern the impact that conditions on the ISS, such as microgravity, other space, and spacecraft-related factors, may have on pathogenicity and virulence,” he noted. (IANS)

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NASA Failed to Trace Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram Lander on Lunar Surface

On July 22, the Rs 978-crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched into space by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III

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NASA, Chandrayaan 2, Vikram Lander
A NASA scientist said the spacecraft failed to trace Vikram because of two reasons -- one, Vikram is located outside the area the US agency photographed, second, because it's lying in a shadowed part of the moon. Wikimedia Commons

US Space agency NASA has once again failed to trace Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander on the lunar surface.

A NASA spacecraft clicked photos of the landing site of Vikram earlier this month, but couldn’t capture the lander.

A NASA scientist said the spacecraft failed to trace Vikram because of two reasons — one, Vikram is located outside the area the US agency photographed, second, because it’s lying in a shadowed part of the moon.

On July 22, the Rs 978-crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched into space by India’s heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

NASA, Chandrayaan 2, Vikram Lander
A NASA spacecraft clicked photos of the landing site of Vikram earlier this month, but couldn’t capture the lander. Wikimedia Commons

The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprised three segments — the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), Vikram (1,471 kg, four payloads) and Pragyan (27 kg, two payloads).

After five earth-bound orbit raising activities, Chandrayaan-2 was inserted into the lunar orbit. On September 2, Vikram separated from the orbiter. It made a historic landing attempt on September 7.

According to NASA, Vikram attempted a landing on a small patch of lunar highland smooth plains between Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters.

This event was India’s first attempt at a soft landing on the moon.

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The US agency said Vikram’s targeted landing site was located about 600 kilometres (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain (70.8AoS latitude, 23.5AoE longitude).

According to NASA, Vikram had a hard landing and the precise location of the spacecraft in the lunar highlands has yet to be determined. (IANS)