Space exploration can cause humans to contract extraterrestrial viruses

The monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal Bioscience published a publication that the development of space research can lead to infection with extraterrestrial mycobacteria and viruses.

The authors of the new publication found that polioviruses, as well as bacteriophages, can survive in a vacuum and cosmic ionizing radiation. Therefore, there is a possibility that astronauts can become infected not on Earth, but in space.

A huge amount of money is spent on the development of the space industry, but there is a global biosecurity problem that requires strict cross-border solutions

Anthony Riccardi, McGill University Fellow
The authors of the work stated that the so-called science of invasion should appear, which investigates how likely extraterrestrial infection is, as well as what the consequences will be.

Also, in their opinion, it is necessary to develop policies and procedures for timely identification, hazard assessment, rapid response, as well as methods for containing invasive species on Earth.

The experts discussed the difficulties of forecasting in this sector and why early identification is important. Riccardi and colleagues said that when real-time DNA sequencing technology is combined with databases of known toxins, it can aid in the identification process.

Moreover, viruses can be found on exoplanets or any other bodies in our solar system. Astrobiologists from the United States and Japan have suggested that virions, which are mostly viral particles made of nucleic acid and proteins, can easily bind to other celestial bodies. For example, these particles can hit the Earth along with a meteorite.

There are no universal virus indicators today. Therefore, scientists recommend using transmission electron microscopes (TEM), which will detect the presence of virions and their various morphological features.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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