Study of the composition, physiology and possible adaptation of microbial communities exposed to weightlessness
The main scientific objectives of the experiment are:
To evaluate which microbial species could unwantedly develop under the growth conditions in life support systems used for human spaceflight. The focus is on potentially infective and destructive microbes, and on the origin and distribution of species on different sample sites of the ISS.
Samples will be taken by rubbing swab-sticks over a defined surface (e.g. buttons, keyboards, personal care appliances). Furthermore, wall panels and other places where condensation creates moist surfaces will be sampled. In addition, electrical wires that produce some heat that might favour microbial growth and places with visible microbial growth will also be sampled.
Samples will also be taken from the astronauts from areas such as the nose and skin before, during and after the flight.
To investigate how microbial species adapt to weightlessness. Is there adaptation to weightlessness by microbes and if so what kind of adaptation: long-term physiological adaptation or genetic selection? Does weightlessness affect the adhesive properties of microbes?
To investigate this adaptation an E. coli bacteria will be grown in space inside a tube. The bacteria will be analysed back on Earth.