PLANKTON found in space: Sea creatures are discovered living on the exterior of the ISS
Traces of plankton and other microorganisms have been found living on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), according to Russian space officials.
They claim the plankton were not carried there at launch – but are thought to have been blown there by air currents on Earth.
Incredibly, the tiny organisms were found to be able to survive in the vacuum of space despite the freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and cosmic radiation.
The discovery was made during a routine spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts Olek Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov, who were launching nanosatellites into space.
They used wipes to polish the surface of windows - also known as illuminators - on the Russian segment of the ISS and later found the presence of plankton and other microorganisms using ‘high-precision equipment’.
What do plankton eat?
Lower level plankton like phytoplankton rely on the sun for photosynthesis. Upper level plankton like zooplankton feed on the phytoplankton.
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.