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Microbial Screening (DSO 409)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:

Microbial contamination during space flight presents a variety of health hazards to the crew and deterioration of essential materials. The level of airborne microbial contaminants has been established as an important factor in the dissemination of infectious diseases. The Shuttle/Spacelab serves as a small closed environmental system with a limited ability for the removal of airborne microbes. Microbe-laden droplets and particulates generated by coughs, sneezes, and crew activities are removed from the air in minutes at one g; however, these droplets can remain suspended for hours in microgravity.

The Johnson Space Center (JSC) Microbiology Laboratory Implemented a Microbial Contamination Control Plan at the onset of the Shuttle missions. One facet of the plan was to quantify and identify airborne microbial contaminants. The cabin air was evaluated preflight and postflight to assess the efficacy of the environmental control system in removing such contaminants. The presence of an open hatch and the activities of various ground support personnel during sample collection jeopardizes the scientific validity of such studies. In-flight monitoring was the only scientifically sound method for assessing the levels and types of airborne microbial contaminants during a mission. The impact of the length of mission, number of crewmembers, and the inclusion of animals and other biological specimens upon the microbial load of the Orbiter's air can be assessed only by the evaluation of in-flight air. The collection of inflight samples was necessary to obtain baseline data prior to those flights involving animals.

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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. All data sets are on the Web site.
Data Sets + View data.

Acinetobacter calcoaceticus
Acinetobacter calcoaceticus (Iwoffi)
Alternaria alternata
Aspergillus amstelodami
Aspergillus flavus var columnaris
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
STS-1 04/12/1981 04/14/1981 2 days
STS-2 11/12/1981 11/14/1981 2 days
STS-3 03/22/1982 03/30/1982 8 days
STS-4 06/27/1982 07/04/1982 7 days
STS-41C 04/06/1984 04/13/1984 7 days
STS-5 11/11/1982 11/16/1982 5 days
STS-6 04/04/1983 04/09/1983 5 days
STS-7 06/18/1983 06/24/1983 6 days
STS-8 08/30/1983 09/05/1983 6 days
STS-9 11/28/1983 12/08/1983 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)
Hardware Items