Russian cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) says he has found bacteria on the hull of the space station.

Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov says he found bacteria clinging to the external surface of the International Space Station. Astronauts didn’t found bacteria at the launch of the ISS. So, it’s not from Earth.

“Bacteria that had not been there during the launch of the ISS module were found on the swabs,” confirmed Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who was part of a team of scientists aboard the orbiting station. “That is, they have come from outer space and settled along the external surface.”

However, cosmonaut Shkaplerov insisted that the bacteria found on the station is not dangerous to humans.

“They are being studied so far and it seems that they pose no danger,” he said.

Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. Credit: NASA

Mr. Shkaplerov talked with the Russian news agency TASS about this problem. He explained that cosmonauts collected the bacteria by swabbing the outside of the space station during spacewalks years ago.

Flight engineer Shkaplerov is preparing for his third trip to the ISS in December as part of the Expedition 54 crew.

However, NASA will have to take an eye on the extra-terrestrial bacteria from outer space for which Shkaplerov is talking about.

Scientists are currently analyzing the bacteria to find out if they really are extra-terrestrial in nature. However, researchers have previously observed some other bacteria from Earth, like Tardigrades, to have survived the vacuum of space.

Some terrestrial bacteria also survived on the space station’s external surface. Though they had remained in a space vacuum for three years. In addition to that, they underwent sharp swings in temperature from minus 150 to plus 150 degrees Celsius, Shkaplerov noted.

So, it could be possible that undiscovered microbes living in the Earth’s upper atmosphere have made their way to the Space Station, somehow.

Thumbnail image: Engineers building the ISS in 1999. Credit: NASA