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Hadfield demonstrates microbial air sampling on the ISS


Uploaded on March 23, 2013


Hadfield demonstrates microbial air sampling on the ISS

2013-03-23 - The International Space Station crews about 3 - 6 people at a time, but sometimes unwelcome guests appear in the form of bacteria. To keep the world's largest orbital laboratory clean, Commander Chris Hadfield uses a floating microbial air sampler to test for nasties. Watch until the end to see what he finds! (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


Chris Hadfield: We live inside a laboratory. We want to make sure that everything is clean, and we don't have any fungus growing. So we sample the air, we sample the surfaces. The way to sample the air is with a microbial filter. Looks like R2D2. It pulls air in the top, down through this sieve. Inside there we have a petri dish. The petri dish collects it, we let it grow for five days and then we take pictures of it, and see whether we grew some mushrooms or not. Hopefully not.

First step: turn it ON.

Next step: push ON.

This has a little spinning fan in it. So it will behave kind of oddly because it's got like a gyroscope. For three minutes it will sample the atmosphere. And I'll close it, shut it off, and then close-up my petri dish and see what grew. Like waiting for your eggs to boil.

Time to push OFF. Time to shut OFF the fan. And now, time to go store the petri dish.

Hi, it's five days later and our samples have been cultivating in their incubation bag in the cabberd. Time to get them out, and see how clean the Space Station is, see what grew.

Just as you'd expect. The air in the Space Station isn't full of floating bugs, looks pristine. Very nice. But I did some surface sampling that day too. Most of the surface samples are good, but not all. Look at this surface sample. Healthy little spores. They like the way we feed them. So there are places in the Station that we can probably clean up a little better. But if you try this in your own house you'd probably be surprised as well.

All part of maintaining a healthy workplace, a healthy place to do experiments and living in space.



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