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International Space Station High Efficiency Particle Filter Analysis (ISS_High_Efficiency_ Particle_Filter_Analysis)
12.04.12

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Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

Experiment Overview

This content was provided by Robert Friedman, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Brief Summary

Microbes are the most abundant life forms on earth, but the least well characterized and understood. International Space Station High Efficiency Particle Filter Analysis (ISS High Efficiency Particle Filter Analysis) studies the microbes present in the air of the International Space Station (ISS) by examining those trapped on the ISS air filter. The goal is to characterize the enormous diversity of microbes that are normally present in indoor environments.

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Robert Friedman, J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego, CA, United States
  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)

  • Lisa Zeigler, J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego, CA, United States
  • Developer(s)
    Information Pending

    Sponsoring Space Agency

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization

    National Laboratory (NL)

    ISS Expedition Duration:

    September 2010 - October 2013



    Expeditions Assigned

    25/26,27/28,31/32,35/36

    Previous ISS Missions

    Information Pending

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • Humans spend the majority of their lives in indoor environments, but little is known about the microorganisms living along with us, including in the air that we breathe. The International Space Station (ISS) is a simpler environment than the typical indoor building environment. It has no outside air entering through doors and windows, no pets, and only a few people. It is thus an ideal environment to explore the "sea of microorganisms" in which we live and breathe.


    • International Space Station High Efficiency Particle Filter Analysis (ISS High Efficiency Particle Filter Analysis) identifies and understands the vast variety of microorganisms present in indoor air by extracting the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from the microorganisms trapped on the High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter of the ISS.


    • This is basic research to understand the microbial composition of indoor environments. Results from this simpler environment are compared to more complex building environments, such as an office building, a hospital, and a single family home.

    Description

    J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) performs analyses of microbial communities from varied environments, e.g., oceans, indoor and outdoor air. Investigations of the International Space Station (ISS) air microbes are designed to better understand an environment with fewer perturbations than those previously studied by JCVI. Additionally, environmental parameters, such as increased radiation and microgravity have yet to be investigated genomically; therefore the ISS samples provided a platform to begin to study these effects on microbial communities.

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    Applications

    Space Applications

    In order to maintain crew health on board the ISS, it is essential to ensure crewmembers have clean air to breathe. Identifying and understanding the microorganisms present on the ISS HEPA filters allows for mitigation of any potential hazards that may result from this very specialized microgravity environment.

    Earth Applications

    Humans spend the majority of their lives in indoor environments, but little is known about the microorganisms living along with us, including in the air that we breathe. This research identifies and helps us understand the vast diversity of microorganisms present in indoor air. Many of these are beneficial to humans, some are harmful, but most are merely co-inhabitants.

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    Operations

    Operational Requirements

    Analysis of the one HEPA filter obtained to date will be extremely informative. Four additional filters will be obtained, by agreement with ISS ECLS, and returned on STS-135. However, if additional filters can be returned after Shuttle retirement, further analysis will help us understand the variability and accuracy of the measurements. Placeholders for sample return are currently slated for SpaceX-3 and SpaceX-5.

    Operational Protocols

    All research is completed postflight.

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    Results/More Information

    New. Preparations for undertaking experimental work are in progress. Studies will be undertaken once the preperation are complete.

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    Related Websites
  • JCVI
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    Imagery

    image Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of the ISS HEPA filter displaying collected bacterial cells and debris particles. Image courtesy of J. Craig Venter Institute.
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    Information provided by the investigation team to the ISS Program Scientist's Office.
    If updates are needed to the summary please contact JSC-ISS-Program-Science-Group. For other general questions regarding space station research and technology, please feel free to call our help line at 281-244-6187 or e-mail at JSC-ISS-Payloads-Helpline.