In tribute to Abdul Kalam, NASA names new species after him

In great news for India, scientists at NASA have named a new organism discovered by them after the much-loved A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

Till date, the new organism — a form of a bacteria — has been found only on the International Space Station (ISS) and has not been found on earth!

Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the foremost lab of NASA for work on inter-planetary travel, discovered the new bacteria on the filters of the International Space Station (ISS) and named it ‘Solibacillus kalamii’ to honour the late president, who was a renowned aerospace scientist.

Kalam had his early training at NASA in 1963 before he set up India’s first rocket-launching facility in the fishing village of Thumba in Kerala.

“The name of the bacterium is ‘Solibacillus kalamii’, the species name is after Dr Abdul Kalam and genus name is Solibacillus which is a spore forming bacteria,” said Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, senior research scientist, Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JPL.

The filter on which the new bug was found remained on board the ISS for 40 months. Called a high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter or HEPA filter, this part is the routine housekeeping and cleaning system on board the international space station.

This filter was later analysed at JPL and only this year did Venkateswaran publish his discovery in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

According to Venkateswaran, even as it orbits the earth some 400 kilometres above, the ISS is home to many types of bacteria and fungi which co-inhabit the station with the astronauts who live and work on the station.

Venkateswaran said even though ‘Solibacillus kalamii’ has never been found on earth till date, it is really not an extra-terrestrial life form or ET.

“I am reasonably sure it has hitch hiked to the space station on board some cargo and then survived the hostile conditions of space,” explained Venkateswaran.

(Agencies)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

Make Correct Pattern to CommentWordPress CAPTCHA