New type of bacteria found in extremely clean and sterilized rooms of NASA

Berry-shaped Tersicoccus pheonicis (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Main Point:

Scientists have found new type of microbes, probably bacteria, in the extremely clean rooms of NASA.

Published in:

[sociallocker]International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology

Study Further:

NASA works in extremely clean and sterilized rooms to build spacecraft for missions to go to the other planets. This sterility helps them to get rid of any contamination.

In order to keep the rooms clean and sterilized, the workers keep them extremely dry and clean them with chemicals such as bleach, UV light and heat treatments. The rooms are also kept at negative air pressure to get rid of contaminants. The workers are also required to work in special suits.

Even in this inhospitable environment, NASA found new species and genus of berry-shaped microbe, perhaps bacteria, called as Tersicoccus phoenicis. The word Tersi means clean in Latin, and coccusm means berry in Greek. Phoenicis is obtained from the Phoenix Mars Lander, the spacecraft that was under construction, when the microbe was found firstly. The microbe is about one micrometer across.

This microbe has been found in two completely different places – one in Florida where Nasa’s Mars Phoenix Lander was constructed and at the European Space Agency’s facility in Kourou, French Guiana.

According to researchers, this microbe could have the ability to live in the spacecraft.


Parag Vaishampayan et al. (2013). Description of Tersicoccus phoenicis gen. nov., sp. nov. isolated from spacecraft assembly clean room environments International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology DOI: 10.1099/ijs.0.047134-0[/sociallocker]

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."

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