According to a Russian official, cosmonauts collected the samples outside of the International Space Station, and it shows evidence of a living bacteria on the ISS Satellite’s surface, according to the Russian news agency, TASS. The bacteria has been studied on Earth, and it doesn’t seem dangerous.
“And now it turns out that somehow these swabs reveal bacteria that were absent during the launch of the ISS module. That is, they have come from outer space and settled along the external surface. They are being studied so far, and it seems that they pose no danger,” said Russian astronaut Anton Shkaplerov.
Shkaplerov seems to be talking about the work of the Test and Biorisk projects. The projects monitor the outside of the Russian modules of the International Space Station. TASS announced in May that the Russian space agency has been studying 19 dust samples while looking for potential signs of alien life. According to the comments Shkaplerov made, it’s still not 100% sure that extraterrestrial life has been discovered. The ISS has been in orbit for about two decades, and with many ways for microbes to sneak up, it’s not yet 100% confirmed that the microbes found on the surface aren’t from Earth.
Interestingly, NASA didn’t respond regarding the statement. However, back in 2014, when Russian officials said that they found Earthen bacteria on the exterior of the space station during a similar project, NASA said that they hadn’t received such information. Scientists can never be sure that they removed all traces of life on Earth on spacecraft, despite using the best sterilization methods. For example, NASA was extremely careful to destroy the Cassini spacecraft, when it let it immerse into Saturn’s atmosphere, and didn’t want to risk having the Cassini spacecraft touch the potentially habitable natural satellite, Enceladus.
Hopefully, NASA will respond regarding the statement of the bacteria on the ISS satellite’s surface, and that the origin of the living bacteria will be discovered.