Microbial Observatory Research in the International Space Station and Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo”
Masaki Shirakawa*, Fumiaki Tanigaki*, and Takashi Yamazaki*,**
*JEM Utilization Center, Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
2-1-1 Sengen, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8505, Japan
**Laboratory of Space and Environmental Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Teikyo University
2-11-1 Kaga, Itabashi, Tokyo 173-8605, Japan
The International Space Station (ISS) is a completely closed environment that offers a long-term microgravity environment. It is a unique environment where microbes can fly and attach themselves to devices or humans, especially the exposed parts of the body and head. The ongoing monitoring and analysis of microbes and their movement inside the Japanese Experiment Module (named “Kibo”) of the ISS are intended to study the effects of microbes on humans and prevent health hazards caused by microbes during a long-term space mission. This paper describes the current status and future plan of Japanese microbiological experiments to monitor microbial dynamics in Kibo. It also describes the future prospective and prioritized microbiological research areas based on the “Kibo utilization scenario towards 2020 in the field of life science.” Given the microbial research in space being actively conducted by the USA, NASA and international activities are also reported.
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