The SpaceX Dragon capsule that recently left Earth for the International Space Station is carrying many an important item: a new laser communication system, coffee (which they just ran out of!), a planter for fresh produce, and billions and billions of microbes swabbed from dinosaur bones, sneakers, and spacecraft clean rooms. Over the next few days, we’ll find out how well these bacteria grow in space.
The bacteria are hitching a ride thanks to Project MERCCURI, which I wrote about along with other space microbe experiments a couple weeks ago. As part of a science outreach and research project, scientists at UC Davis and Science Cheerleader collected microbes from all sorts of interesting places. That includes SUE the T Rex, a toilet, and the New England Patriots stadium. A parallel set of microbes is staying on Earth, and in a few weeks, we'll get to compare the space and earthbound microbes in growth.
This particular SpaceX launch has been delayed three times thanks to various misfortunes, but now the microbes are finally making their planned journey into space. It's exciting times for space microbiology.
Top image: SpaceX