I found an interesting article today at Science@Nasa talking about filthy spaceships. It’s something that had never occurred to me. I suppose I watched to many super-clean space scenes in the movies.
The article describes the problem of lingering humidity, water droplets and microorganisms withing the confined spaces of a space station:
In 1998, U.S. astronauts participating in the NASA 6 and NASA 7 visits to Mir collected environmental samples from air and surfaces in Mir’s control center, dining area, sleeping quarters, hygiene facilities, exercise equipment, and scientific equipment. Imagine their surprise when they opened a rarely-accessed service panel in Mir’s Kvant-2 Module and discovered a large free-floating mass of water. “According to the astronauts’ eyewitness reports, the globule was nearly the size of a basketball,” Ott said.
And that’s not all, it gets worse:
Nor was the water clean: two samples were brownish and a third was cloudy white. … Indeed, samples extracted from the globules by syringes and returned to Earth for analysis contained several dozen species of bacteria and fungi, plus some protozoa, dust mites, and possibly spirochetes.
Here’s an example of the fungus growing on the wall of the International Space Station: