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THE CONTAMINATION IMPACT OF HUMAN EXPLORATION TO A SUBTERRANEAN ENVIRONMENT AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER CREWED SPACE EXPLORATION

Leuko, Stefan and Koskinen, Kaisa and De Waele, Jo and Sanna, Laura and Rettberg, Petra (2016) THE CONTAMINATION IMPACT OF HUMAN EXPLORATION TO A SUBTERRANEAN ENVIRONMENT AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER CREWED SPACE EXPLORATION. 41st Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), 30. Juli - 7. August 2016, Istanbul, Turkey.

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Abstract

The quest of exploring and looking for life in new places is a human desire since centuries. Nowa- days, we are not only looking on planet Earth any more, but our endeavours focus on nearby planets in our solar system. It is therefore of great importance to preserve the extra-terrestrial environment and not to contaminate it with terrestrial / human associated bacteria. At this point in time we are not able to send crewed missions to other planets; however, analysing the impact of human exploration on environments is of great planetary protection concern. This can be achieved by obtaining samples from a subterranean environment, where only ex- pert speleologists have access and the human impact is considered very low. For this study, astronauts participating in the 2014 ESA CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills) training course, obtained samples from deep within a subterranean environment and returned them to the laboratory for molecular microbial analysis. The diversity of the returned soil samples was analysed by molecular means such as clone library and next-generation sequencing (NGS). It was found that humans have an immense impact on the microbial diversity in the environment. Although the cave system is sparsely entered by humans, a high relative abundance of Staphylococcus spp. and Propionibac- teria spp., organisms that are characteristic for human skin, have been recovered. Some samples even showed the presence of human gut associated methanogenic archaea, Methanomassiliicoc- cus spp. The obtained data from this investigation indicate that human exploration is strongly polluting an environment and may lead to false-positive sign of life on other planets. It is therefore imperative to increase our awareness to this problem as well as work towards new protocols to protect a pristine extraterrestrial environment during exploration.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/105927/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:THE CONTAMINATION IMPACT OF HUMAN EXPLORATION TO A SUBTERRANEAN ENVIRONMENT AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER CREWED SPACE EXPLORATION
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Leuko, StefanGerman Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany; stefan.leuko (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Koskinen, Kaisakaisa.koskinen (at) medunigraz.atUNSPECIFIED
De Waele, JoUniversità di Bologna, Bologna, Italy; jo.dewaele (at) unibo.itUNSPECIFIED
Sanna, LauraNational Research Council of Italy, Sassari, Italy; l.sanna (at) ibimet.cnr.itUNSPECIFIED
Rettberg, PetraGerman Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany; petra.rettberg (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4439-2395
Date:2016
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Status:Published
Keywords:Planetary Protection; ESA CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills)
Event Title:41st Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)
Event Location:Istanbul, Turkey
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:30. Juli - 7. August 2016
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R FR - Forschung unter Weltraumbedingungen
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Strahlenbiologie
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:23 Sep 2016 08:02
Last Modified:31 Jul 2019 20:03

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