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NASA all set to fight fungus to keep astronauts safe in space

A New Study Has Revealed That When Humans Are Put In The Type Of Enclosed Habitats That Can Be Used On Moon Or Mars, It Can Boost The Community Of Fungal Stowaways Known As The Mycobiome.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Bindiya Bhatt | Updated on: 12 Jul 2017, 09:15:18 AM
NASA to tackle fungus, the new enemy of astronauts in space

New Delhi:

Astronauts living in space face a number of tough situations such as lack of gravity and abundance radiation that can harm them and even turn fatal. A new challenge that can harm the health of astronauts in space is fungus and US space agency NASA is preparing to fight it.

A new study has revealed that when humans are put in the type of enclosed habitats that can be used on moon or Mars, it can boost the community of fungal stowaways known as the mycobiome. 

Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory observed what happened when humans were kept into the Inflatable Lunar/Mars Analog Habitat (ILMAH) meant to simulate conditions on the International Space Station (ISS) and on hypothetical lunar or Martian bases. 

"We showed that the overall fungal diversity changed when humans were present," report co-author and NASA Senior Research Scientist Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, said in a release.

Once humans were added to the ILMAH, certain fungi appeared to thrive. The fungi included some that can colonize the body and result in allergies, asthma or infections. People with decreased immune systems like astronauts could be prone to such diseases.

"Fungi are extremophiles that can survive harsh conditions and environments like deserts, caves or nuclear accident sites, and they are known to be difficult to eradicate from other environments including indoor and closed spaces," Venkateswaran explained. "Fungi are not only potentially hazardous to the inhabitants but could also deteriorate the habitats themselves."

Investigating the mycobiome in the type of habitats used beyond Earth can result in development of cleaning and maintenance procedure to help keep the fungi at bay, Venkateswaran hopes.

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However, more research is needed and studying the mycobiomes of the humans that actually lived in the habitat is necessary. The study has been published in the journal Microbiome.

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First Published : 11 Jul 2017, 08:36:00 PM

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