Home / Articles / Extraterrestrial Life / German space agency chimes in on discovery of sea plankton on ISS

German space agency chimes in on discovery of sea plankton on ISS

Last month, Russian scientists said they discovered sea plankton on the International Space Station (ISS) that might be alive and thriving. NASA shed doubt on the discovery and little has been said since. However, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) recently responded to questions on the issue confirming the discovery of “bacterial DNA,” but casting doubt on other aspects of the Russian report.

Russian ISS orbital mission chief Vladimir Solovyev made worldwide headlines with his news that Russian scientists had discovered traces of sea plankton on the surface of the ISS. ITAR-TASS News Agency, who broke the news, said the discovery confirms “some organisms can live on the surface of the International Space Station (ISS) for years amid factors of a space flight, such as zero gravity, temperature conditions and hard cosmic radiation.”

Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov (right) and Oleg Artemyev, both Expedition 40 flight engineers, participate in a session of extravehicular activity (EVA). (Credit: NASA/STSCI)

Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov (right) and Oleg Artemyev, both Expedition 40 flight engineers, participate in a session of extravehicular activity (EVA). (Credit: NASA/STSCI)

However, amid all of the excitement, NASA put the brakes on the celebration by stating they could not confirm the claims. NASA spokesman Dan Huot told Space.com, “As far as we’re concerned, we haven’t heard any official reports from our Roscosmos colleagues that they’ve found sea plankton.” Roscosmos is Russia’s Federal Space Agency.

Little officially has been heard since. As Forbes puts it, “To be clear, the actual astronauts aboard the space station haven’t chimed in on the space plankton controversy. Rather, it’s being fought out in the media via brief quotes from space agency representatives here on Earth.”

Now, another one of those space agencies, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which serves as the German space agency and is a prominent member of the European Space Agency (ESA), has chimed in via social media. GreWi.de, who describe themselves as a German frontier-science news magazine, has reported that although their requests to the ESA for a response went unanswered, one of their readers, Tanja Wulff, did receive a response from the DLR via Facebook.

DLR spokeswoman Alisa Wilken wrote (translated by GreWi.de):

At an extravehicular activity Russian cosmonauts took samples from the outside of the Russian module. Those samples were then analyzed in a laboratory on Earth. Within this sample bacterial DNA was discovered.

However, the method by which the samples were analyzed in this case is disputed, as it cannot detect all kinds of bacteria and it also can not test whether the discovered bacteria are living and thriving or not.

Also the biomass that can be extracted from such samples is strongly limited so that at the moment no further tests could have been conducted on it. To do this, more samples would be needed.

German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, who is currently aboard the ISS. (Credit: NASA)

German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, who is currently aboard the ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Wilken’s response seems to more clearly define what the Russians may have found, and confirms the discovery of bacterial DNA. However, it seems that the Germans are not confident whether the microorganisms were alive, let alone thriving, and are also unsure of the type of bacteria that may have been collected.

These points are important. Solovyev says that their discovery, among other things, “means that there are some uplifting air currents which reach the station and settle on its surface.” Which is interesting, and I am sure useful to science, but the excitement was built up around the possibility of living microorganisms in that air settling on the ISS and surviving in space. Sea plankton that found its way into space and died is not quite as exciting.

If the Russians have other reasons to believe the bacteria they collected was sea plankton that was alive and possibly even thriving, it appears the U.S. and Germans have not yet been made aware.

Popular Posts:

Open Minds UFO Video Portal

About Alejandro Rojas

avatar
Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

4 comments

  1. avatar

    Strange, I recall reading somewhere, something about [ Separation of the Waters Above, from the Waters Below.] Interesting times.

  2. avatar

    What if the reason the statement was retracted because it’s “space plankton” and proof of alien life. Does NASA want a slippery slope to full scale protest for disclosure? NASA may be looking for life outside the planet officially but only justify its existence and the funding people working for it need to receive a paycheck. Call me a cynic, but with so many astronauts coming forward to say the UFO phenomena is real I think it’s as close as we will ever get to an admission of the existence of extraterrestrial life. A giant space worm could swallow the ISS and there would be some likely cover story, NASA would never admit it. It likely just goes through the motions and says it’s interested in proving the existence of life beyond this planet and exobiological life forms they discover are likely never to be known or their discovery covered up after the fact.

  3. avatar

    I agree with Justin about NASA not wanting disclosure of life. I’ve forgotten the details now but there was an idea of sending a probe to collect particles out of the upper atmosphere of Venus and examine it for life. However NASA cancelled the idea at the last minute. Then they ignored the Labeled Release Experiment of Viking missions to Mars, told us later on another mission to Mars that perchlorate in the martian soil eliminated the chance for life. Then they tried denying the discovery of Methane on Mars citing an error in the spacecraft despite the fact that this was confirmed from Earth using several Earth bound space telescopes (see Professor Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System make in 2010). But the Indians surprised them by getting the spacecraft into orbit, whose mission it is to detect methane so now they are admitting that there is methane there. If you think you’ve heard this story before then think Lake Vostok. The Russians found the bacteria first, period.

  4. avatar

    In response to: oscar
    September 17, 2014 at 4:55 pm
    Strange, I recall reading somewhere, something about [ Separation of the Waters Above, from the Waters Below.] Interesting times.

    Could your answer be so simple as clouds (waters above) and the seas (waters below)? Is there not a better logic than the simpler, more obvious one? I understand there are times when the obvious may mask the unrevealed, but it should be at least considered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*