The spread of viruses has always been considered a threat on board the international space station. Even the most common diseases, such as the common cold, change their appearance among astronauts, because the conditions characterizing extraterrestrial environments are extreme. A recent study has shown that antibiotic treatments are less effective in space when it comes to controlling increased bacterial virulence.
Astronauts recently departed for the ISS inside a SpaceX Dragon CRS-20 supply vessel. However, the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide. Scientists are afraid of what could happen if the virus spreads into space.
The scientists are worried so the impact of such an epidemic if it manages to reach astronauts in space. In addition, viruses do not spread the same way outside the Earth.
Precautions required on board the ISS
“During the Apollo 7 mission in 1968, the captain came on board with a slight cold. He spread the virus to others and it had a significant impact. Astronauts lacked medicine and handkerchiefs that they had to remove their helmets when they returned “said Jonathan Clark, professor of neurology and space medicine.
Since this first lunar mission, the quarantine procedure on board the space station has been strengthened. For example, in the US segment of the ISS, there are HEPA air filters that are capable of filtering airborne particles. The devices also allow regular wiping of surfaces and better microbial monitoring.
“Following the cold problem like when the moon returned, NASA quarantined all astronauts before and after the flight by limiting contact. The purpose of this precaution is to ensure the health and safety of the crew. In addition, the absence of gravity puts the particles in suspension and the filters eliminate the particles “said Clark.
Microbes Evolve Dangerously in the Space Environment
For emergencies, astronauts are provided with remote medical assistance from space. However, if they are not careful, they will face this kind of disease in more difficult extraterrestrial environments. NASA is now closely monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 on the US space program.
A research mission called RR-7 is being conducted on the ISS. The objective of this project is to study the microbes inside the human body that could affect spaceships. Indeed, space flights modify the organism in strange ways. The spread of infections and the behavior of viruses in the body change when humans go into space.