Deep Cleaning in Deep Space
Scientists Inside the International Space Station, have learned that some bacteria & microbes spread even better in the microgravity environment than on Earth.
As facilities on Earth continue their strict cleaning routines more than one year into a pandemic, pro cleaners may have the ideal fantasy about a place where they can take a rest from their routine, maybe outer space. But they’d be mistaken.
Astronauts on the (ISS) International Space Station follow a very strict cleaning schedule every Saturday, dusting, cleaning, and disinfecting their living quarter surfaces, in a report from Space.com.
Careful not to bring the SARS-CoV-2 virus into the station, astronauts quarantine before arrival and ensuring all newly delivered equipment is free of pathogens. However, keeping potentially dangerous microorganisms in check is still an important part of safe living in a closed environment where air is constantly recycled.
Space station inhabitants use disinfectant wipes to sanitize everything that hands touch like handheld microphones, handrails, computers, to minimize their bacterial trail. They take turns cleaning the messiest areas, such as Node 3, which contains the toilet and exercise equipment, and Node 1, where the astronauts eat.
Astronauts also regularly vacuum the ventilation system, which collects all the debris that floats in the cabin. A blocked ventilation grid could impair the station’s carbon dioxide scrubbing mechanisms, making the air inside almost impossible for breathing.
Studies have found that many kinds of microorganisms prosper in the ISS, with some doing even better in the microgravity environment than on Earth. The station’s microbiome changes as crews rotate, since each astronaut brings their own unique set of microbes with them, which then colonizes the station’s interior. This makes the station a perfect spot for studying new cleaning technology.
The space station currently hosts several experiments that test various antibacterial and antiviral materials designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms. These materials may not only make future space travel safer, but they could also make living on Earth healthier. Such materials could protect doorknobs, elevator buttons, and other high-touch areas.