A new bacteria on the filters of International Space Station (ISS) was discovered by the researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and named Solibacillus kalamii in order to honour the late president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam who was also a popular aerospace scientist.
In 1963, Kalam had his early training at NASA. After that he set up Indias first rocket-launching facility in Thumba of Kerala.
"The name of the bacterium is Solibacillus kalamii, the species name is after Dr Abdul Kalam and genus name is Solibacillus which is a spore forming bacteria," said Dr Kasthuri Venkateswaran, senior research scientist, Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JPL.
For a period of 40 months, the filter on which new bug was found remained on board the ISS. The filter is called a high-profeciency particulate arrestance filter or HEPA filter. This part is the housekeeping and cleaning system regimen on board the international space station.
According to Venkateswaran, though the bacteria Solibacillus kalamii has never been found on earth till date, it is not an extra-terrestrial life form.
“I am reasonably sure it has hitch hiked to the space station on board some cargo and then survived the hostile conditions of space,” explained Venkateswaran.
“Being a fellow Tamilian, I am aware of the huge contributions by Dr. Kalam,” he said.
The bacteria has not been characterized by Venkateswaran team fully but he gives hints that the new bug could be a key source for chemicals that can act as protection against radiation change.