Meanwhile, those who submitted samples have had the rare experience of participating in a space station investigation. This interaction raises interest in research from all walks of life, while providing test samples from those varied paths. According to Coil, the civilian scientists can learn more about the various bacteria they and others helped to collect, such as where the microbe was found, why it's "awesome" and other fun facts. Those who want to keep up with the study in real time can follow the hashtag #spacemicrobes on social media.
"Each microbe has a 'trading card' that you can view on our website," said Coil. "These cards describe where the bacteria was collected, how well it grows, some interesting facts about the bacteria, etc. We grew up hundreds of bacteria from the various events around the country, these were chosen on the basis of not being pathogens--a NASA requirement for the study--and ability to grow under the conditions we're using."
The study may advance future biological and pharmaceutical microgravity research, which could help scientists better understand bacteria and improve treatments for afflictions caused by various pathogens. Knowing more about the nature of bacteria can assist researchers as they work to determine the effectiveness of medicines and explore cellular pathways for targeted disease therapies. To Coil, however, the importance of this project is that participants are learning in a unique way about bacteria and the space station.
"The biggest direct benefit of this work is to raise awareness about microbes, particularly about microbes in the built environment," said Coil. "We've also worked really hard to convey our basic message of 'microbes are everywhere and most of them are not bad,' and people have been very responsive to that. Already we have reached hundreds of people who might not otherwise have though much about e
|Contact: Laura Niles|
NASA/Johnson Space Center