The crewed journey to Mars and its implications for the human microbiome

Kuehnast, Torben, Abbott, Carmel, Pausan, Manuela R., Pearce, David, Moissl-Eichinger, Christine and Mahnert, Alexander (2022) The crewed journey to Mars and its implications for the human microbiome. Microbiome, 10 (1). p. 26. ISSN 2049-2618

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A human spaceflight to Mars is scheduled for the next decade. In preparation for this unmatched endeavor, a plethora of challenges must be faced prior to the actual journey to Mars. Mission success will depend on the health of its crew and its working capacity. Hence, the journey to Mars will also depend on the microbiome and its far-reaching effects on individual crew health, the spaceship’s integrity, and food supply. As human beings rely on their microbiome, these microbes are essential and should be managed to ensure their beneficial effects outweigh potential risks. In this commentary, we focus on the current state of knowledge regarding a healthy (gut) microbiome of space travelers based on research from the International Space Station and simulation experiments on Earth. We further indicate essential knowledge gaps of microbial conditions during long-term space missions in isolated confined space habitats or outposts and give detailed recommendations for microbial monitoring during pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight. Finally, the conclusion outlines open questions and aspects of space traveler’s health beyond the scope of this commentary.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This commentary is a summary of a report prepared for COSPAR in 2020: “Microbial and human health monitoring during space flight and impact on forward and backward contamination” (same co-authors) which is available on request. The financial support by COSPAR and the administrative support by the European Science Foundation (ESF) is highly appreciated.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Space, Spacecraft, Space traveler, Astronauts, Healthy, Perturbation, Reconstitution, Diversity, Gut, Planetary protection
Subjects: C500 Microbiology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2022 12:12
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2022 12:30

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