It is a place on the International Space Station that is dirty – for science


While most of us are now more cautious about keeping our homes and workplaces clean, on the International Space Station, cleanliness is mandatory.

There is an anti-bacterial remedy of high importance, as bacteria build up in the continuously recycled air inside the ISS.

Every Saturday in space is a “cleaning day”, where surfaces are wiped out, and astronauts collect vacuum and trash.

But there is a place at the station where there is no sanitation. But don’t worry, it’s all for science!

The Matisse experiment, or tethering microbial aerosols on the innovative surface at the International Space Station, tests five advanced materials and how well they can prevent disease-causing microorganisms from settling and growing in the microorganism.

Matisse has also provided information on how biofilms attach to surfaces in microgravity conditions.

The experiment is sponsored by the French space agency CNES and was conceived in 2016. Three iterations of the experiment have been used on the ISS.

The first was MatISS-1, and its four sample holders were installed at three different locations in the European Columbus Laboratory Module for six months.

This provided some baseline data points for the researchers, such as when they came back to Earth, the researchers characterized the deposits on each surface and used control materials to establish a reference for the level and type of pollution.

MATIS-2 had four identical specimen holders with three different types of material, installed at the same location in Columbus. The purpose of this study is to better understand how contamination spreads over time on hydrophobic (water-repellent) and control surfaces.

Advanced MATIS-2.5 was studied for how contamination spreads – this time spatially – on hydrophobic surfaces using pattern samples. The experiment lasted for a year and recently the samples were brought back to Earth and are now being analyzed.

The samples are made from a diverse mixture of advanced materials, such as self-assembly monollers, green polymers, ceramic polymers, and water-repellent hybrid silica.

Smart materials should prevent bacteria from sticking and growing over large areas, and effectively make them easier to clean and more hygienic. The experiment hopes to find out which material works best.

The ESA states that “understanding the effectiveness and potential use of these materials will be essential to the design of future spacecraft, particularly those carrying the father of humans into space.”

Long-term manned space missions will certainly need to limit the bio-pollution of astronaut habitats.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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