A new microbe has been discovered by a NASA microbiologist and has been found in two very unique locations. This microbe doesn’t require much to eat, and it is very resistant to stressors that would kill other microbes, like chemical cleaning or ultra violet treatments. What is the unique habitat for this microbe?– NASA cleanrooms in Florida and South America.
NASA cleanrooms are some of the cleanest in the world. The stakes are incredibly high for these cleanrooms, as it is where spacecrafts are worked on and created before they leave Earth. As to be expected, the projects worked on within these rooms are very expensive, and contamination could compromise the mission.
NASA cleanrooms are frequently tested for organisms, bacteria and other living things for a variety of reasons. In the event that life is found somewhere else in the universe, it is important to determine that it didn’t originate from Earth as a stowaway aboard a spacecraft. Due to the very intense cleanliness standard of the NASA cleanrooms, these microbes can live off of almost no food.
“We want to have a better understanding of these bugs because the capabilities that adapt them for surviving in cleanrooms might also let them survive on a spacecraft,” said microbiologist Parag Vaishampayan of NASA’s JPL. “This particular bug survives with almost no nutrients.”
What makes this microbe unique is that it isn’t found anywhere else in the world except these two cleanrooms. The microbe has been deemed a new species and genus. The microbe is shaped somewhat like a berry has been named Tersicoccus phonecisis, which is a combination of Greek and Latin words meaning “clean” and “berry.”
Research will continue about this unique bacterium with the hopes of learning more about it and how to control it within cleanrooms.