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)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)ISS Expedition Duration:
September 2010 - October 2013
25/26,27/28,31/32,35/36Previous ISS Missions
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.
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.
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.
New. Preparations for undertaking experimental work are in progress. Studies will be undertaken once the preperation are complete.