Sea plankton 'found living outside International Space Station'


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Russian cosmonauts claim to have discovered tiny marine creatures thriving in zero-gravity on the outside of the International Space Station

Russian cosmonauts claim to have found marine creatures living on the outside of the International Space Station where conditions for life are believed to be impossible

By Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent

6:09PM BST 21 Aug 2014


Sea plankton has been discovered living on the outside of the International Space Station, Russian cosmonauts have claimed.

Scientists on board the ISS are reported to have discovered living organisms when taking samples from windows.

Head of the Russian ISS orbital mission Vladimir Solovyev said the results of the experiment “are absolutely unique”.

Solovyev told the Russian Itar-Tass news agency that the tiny marine life-forms were not native to the launch site in Kazakhstan.

“Plankton in these stages of development could be found on the surface of the oceans,” he said.“This is not typical for Baikonur [in Kazakhstan]. It means that there are some uplifting air currents which reach the station and settle on its surface.”

However NASA say they are in the dark about the find.
“As far as we're concerned, we haven't heard any official reports from our Roscosmos colleagues that they've found sea plankton," Nasa spokesperson Dan Huot told
Although Mr Huot confirmed that Russian cosmonauts had been taking samples from the windows on their side of the ISS, he claimed they were only looking for “residues that can build up on the visually sensitive elements".
“What they’re actually looking for is residues that can build up on the visually sensitive elements, like windows, as well as just the hull of the ship itself that will build up whenever they do thruster firings for things like re-boosts.
“That’s what they were taking samples for.I don't know where all the sea plankton talk is coming from,” Mr Huot added.

[SUP]Plankton usually live in the ocean[/SUP]
Although the reports are unconfirmed, microbes are known to live in hostile environments and may be able to survive in freezing temperatures and zero gravity.
A type of microscopic invertebrate known as a tardigrade has survived the vaccum of space for 10 days.
Research published this week has suggested that microbes can live half a mile beneath the ice in Antarctica, without access to sun or fresh air.
NASA scientists have confirmed that it’s possible the sea plankton could have hitched a ride from Earth when the space station modules were launched.
It is believed the discovery was made during a routine spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts Olek Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov.
The surface of the ISS is heavily polluted due to engines from delivery spacecrafts and other factors.
Crew members have therefore initiated a cleanup operation to put the illuminators in order.
The assembly of the International Space Station began in 1998. Since then it has spent nearly 6,000 days in Earth orbit.