SpaceX to deliver a lethal superbug to the ISS, but the astronauts don’t mind

spacex mrsa delivery iss
NASA/Crew of STS-132
SpaceX is just days away from launching a dangerous bacterium toward the International Space Station (ISS). Fortunately the folks aboard the ISS know about it, and will be ready to receive the special delivery when it arrives next week.

The special delivery will be used for a space-based science experiment aimed at helping researchers better understand the impact of near-zero gravity on gene expression and mutation patterns, Forbes reported. The pathogen that (fingers-crossed) won’t wreak havoc on the ISS or inspire a hellish horror movie about the same is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, better known by its shorter “superbug” name: MRSA.

For those not in the know, MRSA is resistant to many widely used antibiotics and therefore can be tricky to treat effectively, making it a serious threat to public health. That’s why scientists are desperate to find a way to deal with it.

Lead researcher Dr. Anita Goel believes that the near-zero gravity environment aboard the space station could cause the mutation rate of MRSA to accelerate.

While that may sound like more fodder for a horror flick that they probably won’t make, the acceleration would give scientists the opportunity to stay ahead of the unfolding MRSA situation on Earth, as they’ll be able to glimpse mutation patterns that are yet to occur back on the ground.

“Our work in microgravity on the ISS is both very practical and fundamental,” Goel told Forbes. “We are pushing the envelope of personalized, precision medicine, enabling better prediction of drug resistance and hence smarter drugs.”

It’s an exciting time for Goel and her team, with the space station experiments potentially leading to a significant breakthrough in the study and handling of MRSA. With more than 80,000 invasive MRSA infections and some 11,000 related deaths occurring in the United States every year, such a breakthrough can’t come soon enough.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Gaming

You won't need a new hard drive thanks to these tips for deleting games from a PS4

PlayStation 4 games eat up storage space quickly, which will inevitably require you to make room for new games. Here's how to delete and reinstall games on PS4 for those times when you have to manage your storage space.
Computing

The next Microsoft Surface Pro could have a redesigned kickstand hinge

A Microsoft patent could provide additional details on the hinge of the next Surface Pro. The patent describes "secured device portions" and the inner workings of a hinge mechanism for a device in space-constrained environments. 
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Emerging Tech

Mind-bending model shows Venus isn’t our nearest neighbor — it’s Mercury

Every textbook and table on the internet agrees -- the closest planet to Earth is Venus. But a new mathematical model shows that this is wrong. In fact, the planet closest to us on average is Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.
Emerging Tech

New Hubble image displays dazzling Messier 28 globular cluster

Messier 28 is a group of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius, located 18,000 light-years from our planet. Thousands of stars are packed tightly together in this sparkling image.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.