The International Space Station has a problem with fungus and mold

Well, guess I won't be going to the space station.

NASA grant to study space station fungus
by Jeff Zehnder
Boulder CO (SPX) Nov 03, 2019

The International Space Station has a problem with fungus and mold - and the University of Colorado Boulder is sending new research to space to find solutions.

It is living and growing in secret aboard the station, hidden behind panels and inside pipes and conduit. It can live on almost any surface, and will slowly consume whatever it touches - plastic, metal, glass. It does not discriminate, and it is a real problem.


"They've found cultures of these microbes on the shuttle, Mir, and ISS. Every long-term mission has seen a growth of microbes where you don't want to see them," said Rylee Schauer, an aerospace engineering sciences master's student working on the project.

The microbes are a type of fungus or bacteria called a biofilm. They represent a threat in space because they eat through the surfaces they grow on, a process called biodegredation. Biofilm formation also increases the risk of human illness.

"It shows up behind control panels and has gotten into heat exchangers and pipe systems. On Mir, they once noticed a pretty bad stench. Looking for its source, they pulled off a panel and found a lot of mold. That was the smell, but it was also consuming plastic cabling in that area," said Luis Zea, an assistant research professor in BioServe and the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences who is leading the NASA grant.



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