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Microbiological Investigations (AP002)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

With the landing of man on the moon, the transfer of microorganisms from astronauts to the moon and from the moon back to Earth became a possibility. In order to characterize contaminants, a catalog of crew microflora was prepared prior to each Apollo mission. This procedure was necessary to identify possible terrestrial contaminants in the returned lunar material. Exposure to microorganisms in the closed environment of the spacecraft was also a concern. The Lunar Quarantine Program, which was in effect for the Apollo 11 through 14 missions, required sampling selected sites of the Command Module. Therefore, crew microbiology as well as spacecraft microbiology were evaluated during this study.

While the focus was on lunar contamination, analysis of crew specimens was performed to satisfy three additional objectives:

1) detection of potentially pathogenic microorganisms so that associated medical problems could be identified early and preventive measures could be established
2) identification of medically important microorganisms recovered from ill crewmembers to aid in diagnoses and treatment
3) evaluation of the space flight environment's effect on the crew's microbial autoflora and the resultant effect this potential change had on crewmembers. Studies conducted during the final missions of Apollo were designed to identify and prepare for possible microbial problems associated with the lengthy Skylab missions.

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Carmichael C, Taylor GR. Evaluation of crew skin flora under conditions of a full quarantine lunar-exploration mission. British Journal of Dermatology. 1977. August; 97(2):187-96. []

Ferguson JK, Taylor GR, Mieszkuc BJ. Microbiological investiagtions. In: Anderson M, Rummel JA, Deutsch S, eds. BIOSPEX: Biological Space Experiments. Houston, TX: NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center; 1979:21. NASA TM-58217. [NTRS]

Ferguson JK, Taylor GR, Mieszkuc BJ. Section II, chapter 2: microbiological investigations. In: Johnson RS, Dietlein LF, Berry CA, eds. Biomedical Results of Apollo. Washington, DC: NASA Headquarters; 1975:83-103. NASA SP-368. [NTRS]

Taylor GR, Henney MR, Ellis WL. Changes in the fungal autoflora of Apollo astronauts. Applied Microbiology. 1973. November; 26(5):804-13. []

Taylor GR. Apollo 14 Microbial Analyses. Houston, TX: NASA Manned Spacecraft Center; 1972. NASA TM X-58094. [NTRS]

Taylor GR. Recovery of medically important microorganisms from Apollo astronauts. Aerospace Medicine. 1974. August; 45(8):824-8. []

Aerospace medicine
Environmental microbiology
Environmental monitoring
Equipment contamination
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Some data sets are online.
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Achromobacter species
Acromonium species
Actinomyces israelii
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Apollo 10 05/18/1969 05/26/1969 8 days
Apollo 11 07/16/1969 07/24/1969 8 days
Apollo 12 11/14/1969 11/24/1969 10 days
Apollo 13 04/11/1970 04/17/1970 6 days
Apollo 14 01/31/1971 02/09/1971 9 days
Apollo 15 07/26/1971 08/07/1971 12 days
Apollo 16 04/16/1972 04/27/1972 11 days
Apollo 17 12/07/1972 12/19/1972 12 days
Apollo 7 10/11/1968 10/22/1968 11 days
Apollo 8 12/21/1968 12/27/1968 6 days
Apollo 9 03/03/1969 03/13/1969 10 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)