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Sunday, 21 December 2014
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Did you know that one inadvertent stowaway from Earth, the common bacteria Streptococcus mitis, is the only known survivor of unprotected space travel? In 1991, as Apollo 12Commander Pete Conrad reviewed the transcripts of his conversations relayed from the Moon back to Earth, he said, “I always thought the most significant thing that we ever found on the whole . . .Moon was that little bacteria who came back and lived, and nobody ever said [anything] about it.”
In November 1969, microorganisms were recovered from inside the camera of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft that had been brought back to Earth under sterile conditions by the Apollo 12 crew. Amazed scientists discovered that 50 to 100 of the organisms survived the launch, space vacuum, three years of radiation exposure, deep-freeze at an average temperature of only 20 degrees above absolute zero, and no nutrients, water, or energy source. Streptococcus mitis is a harmless bacterium from the nose, mouth, and throat in humans. How this remarkable feat was accomplished by a colony of space-faring Strep bacteria remains speculative.