NASA has named a new bacteria discovered on the filters of the International Space Station, ISS, as Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. The genus is Solibacillus and the species name is kalamii. Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found that the bacteria remained on board the International Space Station for 40 months. The new organism is found only on the ISS and has not been found anywhere on the earth. In 1963, Dr. Kalam had his early training at NASA before setting up India’s first rocket launching facility at Thumba in Kerala.
The filter on which the new bug was found remained on board the ISS for 40 months. Called a high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter, it is a component of the routine housekeeping and cleaning system. This filter was later analysed at JPL. Venkateswaran published his discovery in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology this year. According to him, even as it orbits Earth at some 400 kilometres altitude, the ISS is home to many types of bacteria and fungi that cohabit the station with the astronauts who live and work there. He added that even though S. kalamii has not yet been found on Earth, it is really not an extraterrestrial lifeform, either.