The International Space Station has a problem with fungus and mold – and the University of Colorado Boulder has sent new research to space to find solutions.

It is living and growing in secret aboard the station, hidden behind panels and inside pipes and conduit. It can live on almost any surface, and will slowly consume whatever it touches – plastic, metal, glass. It does not discriminate, and it is a real problem.

BioServe Space Technologies at CU Boulder is investigating potential fixes. The center has been awarded a $750,000 grant by NASA to increase our understanding of the organisms and investigate ways to stop them. On November 2, 2019, Northrop Grumman successfully launched a cargo resupply mission to ISS with BioServe’s experiments on board.

“They’ve found cultures of these microbes on the shuttle, Mir, and ISS. Every long-term mission has seen a growth of microbes where you don’t want to see them,” said Rylee Schauer, an aerospace engineering sciences master’s student working on the project.

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