This is how a NASA astronaut will swab the ISS exterior for microbes

NASA’s first spacewalk of 2024 at the International Space Station (ISS) will soon be conducted by astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matt Dominick. During the spacewalk, they will perform maintenance work and swab the exterior surfaces of the station’s Destiny and Quest modules for analysis. This analysis aims to determine whether microorganisms released through station vents can survive the harsh microgravity environment outside the station. The results of this study will help scientists assess the potential existence of life in other celestial bodies and confirm the origin of any life found on places like Mars, distinguishing between indigenous life and potential contamination from Earth. In a recently released animation, NASA demonstrates how Dyson will collect the samples.
In the video, Dyson can be seen starting the process by placing the microorganism handle in the caddy on her portable workstation, easily identifiable by the red stripes on her suit. She then proceeds to collect the first sample from a vacuum exhaust systems vent.

Next, Dyson heads towards the station’s carbon dioxide vent to collect the second sample. Additionally, samples will also be taken from the airlock area where the astronauts exited the orbital facility for their spacewalk.

During the spacewalk, Dyson and Dominick will also retrieve a piece of faulty communications equipment. This marks Dyson’s fourth spacewalk and Dominick’s first. Both astronauts arrived at the space station in March and are scheduled for a six-month stay.

The entire spacewalk will be livestreamed by NASA and is expected to last approximately six-and-a-half hours. Coverage of the event will begin at 6:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, with the spacewalk itself commencing around 8 a.m. ET.
The article will feature video footage captured from various cameras, including one mounted on the astronauts’ helmets. Additionally, readers will have the opportunity to listen to real-time communications between Dyson, Dominick, and Mission Control, along with commentary from a NASA representative who will provide explanations of the ongoing events.