Scientists once sent bacteria into space that cause abdominal pain, weakness, and many other unpleasant symptoms in humans. Together with them, a culture of human intestinal cells was launched into Earth's orbit. As part of the experiment, scientists infected human cells with pathogenic bacteria in outer space in order to see what happens. All of this was done during the 2010 shuttle Discovery flight to the International Space Station. For nearly a decade, scientists have carefully studied the results obtained and recently made an important discovery. It turned out that in space conditions, bacteria become much stronger. Within the framework of this article, I propose to find out what danger awaits future astronauts and whether this problem can be somehow solved.
Bacteria in space
The results of the experiment were published in the scientific journal npj Microgravity. In a scientific work called STL-IMMUNE, scientists sent bacteria of the species Salmonella enterica into Earth orbit. They are the causative agents of salmonellosis - an acute intestinal infection, which is accompanied by fever, weakness, headache, nausea and other unpleasant symptoms. And all because, having settled in the intestines, these microbes begin to secrete toxic substances. They lead to loss of water through the intestines, impaired vascular tone and damage to the nervous system. In severe cases of the disease, dehydration is observed, as well as an increase in the liver and spleen.
Salmonella enterica bacteria
As part of the experiment, scientists were most interested in how human cells respond to infection. It turned out that in terrestrial conditions, salmonella infection affects 35 human genes, and in space - 62 genes. We will not go into complex details, because for us it is important that in space conditions bacteria become at least 2 times more dangerous. In principle, this is no longer news, because even in earlier experiments, scientists have argued that space makes salmonellosis more contagious.
Bacteria are another danger to humans, in addition to cosmic radiation
Because of what exactly the infectiousness increases, it is not yet known exactly. After all, space is one of the most mysterious things of all. But the great vulnerability of people to disease in space can be explained logically. We already know very well that astronauts are exposed to cosmic radiation. Of course, this has a bad effect on immunity and people become less resistant to infectious diseases. And this problem needs to be solved somehow.
The danger of space for humans
Salmonellosis rarely leads to human death. However, according to the World Health Organization, this disease is among the main causes of diarrhea. If a person is on Earth, this is not such a catastrophic problem. After all, he is located in relatively comfortable conditions and can go to the hospital at any time. But what about a person who becomes infected with dangerous bacteria, being hundreds of kilometers from the earth's surface? The danger of the problem increases several times and the risk of death in this case also increases many times.
Scientists need to figure out how to protect space travelers from infectious diseases
At the moment, scientists have no idea how to solve this problem. One thing is clear - you need at least to develop a plan for the prevention of such diseases.And you need to be prepared for completely different diseases, because there are a lot of pathogenic bacteria. Perhaps, before sending people into space, scientists will thoroughly disinfect all objects and carefully examine astronauts for the presence of infectious diseases. This will be important not only before flights to the International Space Station. The most important thing is to carry out preventive measures before sending people to Mars and other distant planets.