From Space to Surface! SRK® Sticks the Landing with Surface Sampling Simplified!

Product Features

July 6, 2017

Hoping to be among the few chosen for a mission to Mars? COPAN didn’t even have to wait around for an acceptance letter and was still able to visit the Final Frontier!

In a recent study titled “Non-Toxin-Producing Bacillus Cereus Strains Belonging to the B. Anthracis Clade Isolated from the International Space Station”published by the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSystems on June 27, 2017, researchers used COPAN’sSwab Rinse Kit (SRK®) to assess the microbial levels in a closed environment and discovered that some scary stuff is hanging out in those spacy digs. The study aimed at developing a microbial census of the surfaces and atmosphere in the space station.

Using our environmental monitoring swabs, samples were collected from various locations in the living quarters of the Russian Zvezda service module of the International Space Station (ISS) during several missions. Researchers used COPAN’s SRK, specifically product number 927C which consists of a tube without media and a rayon swab. Swabs were premoistened with 55µL of Phosphate Buffered Saline (PBS) solution. Pre-moistened swabs improve sample uptake and can help neutralize surfaces.

COPAN’s SRK product line also includes swabs pre-moistened with various broths, including our SRK® Solution, a non-nutrient phosphate buffered neutralizing agent.

After collection, samples were transported at 2 to 4° to the microbiology laboratory at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. Once processed, scientists discovered the presence of the spore-forming Bacillus cereus lato group, which consists of pathogens including: B. anthracis (the bacteria that causes the disease known as Anthrax), B. cereus (which can cause foodborne illnesses) and B. thuringiensis.

Dust Bunnies in Space

First launched into our orbit in 1998, the International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite. The station, the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit, can often be seen by the naked eye. Still, there’s nothing Earth-bound about this satellite.

The space station was created to serve as a research laboratory for experiments in biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields. Microbes in space aren’t just the annoying dust bunnies we planet-dwelling humans are constantly sweeping away. Potential pathogens making their way into out-of-this-world vessels could pose a serious threat to crew members.

So how do we keep our Space Cowboys safe? First, the air inside the closed environment of the ISS is constantly recycled. To maintain a clean and healthy atmosphere for the astronauts, the satellite is equipped with special High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to catch all that dust and debris. Yet, the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” couldn’t be any truer in this case.

To researchers, the debris that builds up in those filters and vacuum bags is dust-covered gold. Monitoring these microbes to ensure that they don’t pose a threat to our astronauts is just one element of this study. Microbiologists are also keeping an eye out for new microbes that could have far-reaching effects on anything from future space travel to medical care.

By identifying these potential pathogens, researchers will be able to develop antidotes future missions and improve our understanding of microorganisms.

Although we won’t be orbiting in space, we will be touching down in Tampa, Fla. for the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) from July 9 through July 11. Please stop by booth #1031 and learn all about the versatility of our SRK line!