In the vast expanse of space, astronauts face a unique challenge – the need to share spacesuits during prolonged spacewalks. These suits, including their inner linings that come into direct contact with the astronauts’ skin, tend to accumulate bodily fluids over time. Drawing a rather relatable analogy, it’s akin to sharing underwear in space!
However, the practicality of washing these spacesuit interiors on lunar surfaces or beyond presents a significant hurdle. To counter this, a dedicated group of researchers is delving into innovative strategies to curb the growth of potentially harmful microbes within the inner layers of these suits.
Here’s where the solution gets intriguing: the world of microbiology offers a fascinating approach. Certain types of microbes possess ‘secondary metabolites’ that allow them to combat other microbes. These compounds are not only diverse in colour but also possess antibiotic properties. The ingenious idea involves integrating these microbial warriors into the very fabric of the spacesuit’s inner layer.
This pioneering research isn’t confined solely to the realm of spacesuits; its implications extend far beyond. The outcomes hold the potential to revolutionise the field of antimicrobial treatments and smart textile technologies right here on Earth. As we gear up for lunar expeditions and beyond, these microbial-fighting fabrics could play a pivotal role in ensuring astronauts’ health and well-being while opening new frontiers of innovation back home.
📽 ESA – European Space Agency
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Multi-site in-flight call with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano
Enter the airlock with Thomas Pesquet (in French with English subtitles available)
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