Microorganisms are in the spotlight once more. Yesterday, microbial life was confirmed more than a half mile below the Antarctic ice sheet. Today, Russian officials are saying cosmonauts have collected samples from the International Space Station itself showing trace amounts of sea plankton and other microscopic organisms. These samples come from outside the space station where they where exposed to the vacuum of space.
It should be noted these reports from Russia have not been confirmed by anyone else.
Microorganisms surviving in space isn’t news. But, sea plankton is a new one. “The results of this experiment are absolutely unique,” said Vladimir Solovyev, chief of the Russian ISS orbital mission, to Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency.
“We have found traces of sea plankton and microscopic particles on the illuminator (window) surface. This should be studied further.”
“Plankton in such phases of development is found on the surface of the ocean. It isn’t characteristic to Baikonur (Cosmodrome where supplies are launched from), says Solovyev.
“It turns out that there are some rising air currents, which settle on the surface of the station.”
That’s the prevailing theory. That or the plankton has always been on the ISS. Which would also be huge news since the ISS has been in space since 1998. Plankton surviving that long would blow past scientists’ expectations of how long life can survive in the vacuum of space.
I think I’m going to wait until NASA confirms the discovery. Right now, U.S. spacewalks are postponed until next month when new spacesuit batteries are expected to be delivered.