It’s something that no one can explain right now, but scientists have found that of the 48 harmless bacteria strains they’ve been raising on the International Space Station, one has not just adapted to its new microgravity environment some 400 km above Earth – it prefers it.
According to a new study, Bacillus safensis JPL-MERTA-8-2 – a strain that was first discovered on one of the Mars Exploration Rovers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida before they launched in 2004 – grew an impressive 60 percent better in space than the control colonies on Earth, and it’s not yet clear why. The most obvious difference between the two environments is gravity, but as David Coil, a University of California, Davis microbiologist and lead researcher on the project, told Becky Ferreira at Motherboard, it’s highly unlikely that gravity makes any difference to individual microbes, seeing as they’re so incredibly minute.
“Bugs are pretty small, so gravity is not a major determining factor on their day-to-day metabolism and physiology,” he said. But perhaps something that doesn’t affect an individual in any discernible way can have a significant effect on the larger community. Source: This common bacterium grows 60% better in space than on Earth