A report describes experiments that were performed to isolate and characterize microbes that survive conditions of controlled circulation of air, desiccation, low nutrient concentrations, and moderately high temperatures in a spacecraft-assembly facility. These conditions are more severe than those to which the natural strains of the same microbial species are ordinarily exposed. This study is part of continuing research on related issues of (1) efficacy of sterilization (e.g., by use of H2O2 and/or heat) of spacecraft to be used in planetary exploration, (2) the use of selected microbes as indicators of the effectiveness of sterilization, and (3) the feasibility of commercial utilization of enzymes produced by microbes that tolerate severe conditions.
This work was done by Kasthuri Venkateswaran of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
To obtain a copy of the report, "Isolation and Characterization of Hydrogen Peroxide Resistant, Thermotolerant, and Halotolerant Microbes from a Spacecraft Assembly Facility," access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.nasatech.com/tsp under the Bio-Medical category.