Plaaaaaaaannnkktooooonnnnn In Spaaaaaccccce

Not an

Not an actual photo of plankton on the ISS.  However, just like other “media” outlets we too wanted to put a picture of plankton in the post so you thought it was from ISS.  Don’t worry we will write a very long caption so that you won’t make it to the end to realize that we actually dug this up off Wikimedia commons and this is picture from the Southern Oceans.

According to several “news” agencies ocean plankton have supposedly been found on the outside of the International Space Station.  From the ITAR-TASS News Agency that broke the story,

An experiment of taking samples from illuminators and the ISS surface has brought unique results, as scientists had found traces of sea plankton there, the chief of an orbital mission on Russia’s ISS segment told reporters…Microorganisms could be found on the ISS surface thanks to high-precision equipment. “Results of the experiment are absolutely unique. We have found traces of sea plankton and microscopic particles on the illuminator surface. This should be studied further,” chief of the Russian ISS orbital mission Vladimir Solovyev said.

But something smells fish and its not ocean residue on the ISS. From

However, NASA has not confirmed the reports. “As far as we’re concerned, we haven’t heard any official reports from our Roscosmos colleagues that they’ve found sea plankton,” NASA spokesman Dan Huot said. Roscosmos is Russia’s Federal Space Agency. “I’m not sure where all the sea-plankton talk is coming from,” Huot told “The Russians did take samples from one of the windows on the Russian segment, and what they’re actually looking for is residues that can build up on the visually sensitive elements, like windows, as well as just the hull of the ship itself that will build up whenever they do thruster firings for things like re-boosts. That’s what they were taking samples for. I don’t know where all the sea plankton talk is coming from.” It’s possible that the plankton, if confirmed, could be a contaminant launched into space with the space station module, said NASA scientist Lynn Rothschild.

So no one from the outside has confirmed this nor have the results been published.  So until I see AN ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH of the plankton they found on the ISS I’m call BS on this.  But my favorite part is this

Mr Solovyev is not absolutely sure ‘how these microscopic particles could have appeared on the surface of the space station,’ according to Russian news agency Itar-Tass. But he thinks they they may have been ‘uplifted’ to the station at an altitude of 260 miles (420km).

So basically space winds or some sort of planktonado? This just in pigs have also been found in space.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.