Microbial monitoring of crewed habitats in space-current status and future perspectives

Microbes Environ. 2014 Sep 17;29(3):250-60. doi: 10.1264/jsme2.me14031. Epub 2014 Aug 12.


Previous space research conducted during short-term flight experiments and long-term environmental monitoring on board orbiting space stations suggests that the relationship between humans and microbes is altered in the crewed habitat in space. Both human physiology and microbial communities adapt to spaceflight. Microbial monitoring is critical to crew safety in long-duration space habitation and the sustained operation of life support systems on space transit vehicles, space stations, and surface habitats. To address this critical need, space agencies including NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), ESA (European Space Agency), and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) are working together to develop and implement specific measures to monitor, control, and counteract biological contamination in closed-environment systems. In this review, the current status of microbial monitoring conducted in the International Space Station (ISS) as well as the results of recent microbial spaceflight experiments have been summarized and future perspectives are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Exobiology* / trends
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Spacecraft*
  • United States
  • Workforce