Over the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent that we are not alone. Each and every human being comes complete with their own microbiome – a collection of microbes that they take with them wherever they go. For example, if we move home, it only takes about 24 hours for your microbiome to overwrite the previous owners left behind. 

We’re still learning about how our microbiome affects our health, and that’s here on Earth. NASA is constantly concerned about what happens to microbes in space. Whether, for example, a microbe that’s relatively benign on Earth could mutate into a superbug in microgravity or impact critical life support, research, and electronic systems.

In 2019, scientists published the results of a comprehensive study of the microbes on the International Space Station (SS). They cataloged a robust population of bacteria and fungi, most of which are associated with humans. The ISS microbes are similar to those found in multioccupancy spaces on Earth, such as gyms, offices, and hospitals.

So there’s ongoing monitoring of the microbes on the station generally. But there’s also a team looking into the microbes that inhabit the Veggie growing system and checking that the crops grown in Veggie are safe for the crew to eat.

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