Russian scientists conducting experiments on the outside surface of the International Space State made a puzzling discovery, one made all the more remarkable because it's something that whales eat.
Samples taken from illuminators and the surface of the space station were found to have traces of sea plankton and other microorganisms, but scientists are baffled as to how they got there, the Russian chief of the orbital mission told the ITAR-TASS News Agency.
"Results of the experiment are absolutely unique," chief of the Russian ISS orbital mission Vladimir Solovyev told ITAR-TASS. "We have found traces of sea plankton and microscopic particles on the illuminator surface. This should be studied further."
The study shows that the sea plankton and organisms can live in space despite lack of oxygen, zero gravity, extreme temperatures, and cosmic radiation, and they proved these organisms can even develop.
More from Will Stewart in Moscow for the U.K. Express:
The news agency reported that Mr. Solovyev was uncertain "how these microscopic particles could have appeared on the surface of the space station," adding that the organisms were not typical for Baikonur in Kazakhstan, from where the space station lifted off.
"Plankton in these stages of development could be found on the surface of the oceans.
"This is not typical for Baikonur. It means that there are some uplifting air currents which reach the station and settle on its surface,” he was quoted as saying.
The discovery was made using high-precision equipment in the experiment, apparently prompted during an operation to clean and polish the International Space Station, the Express reported.
As Solovyev said, this should be studied further.
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