Genome Hunters Go After Martian DNA
Posted in Uncategorized by Courtney on October 23rd, 2012
Comments Off on Genome Hunters Go After Martian DNA

The answer to the age-old question “does life exist on other planets?” may be answered sooner than we think. Researchers are currently developing a project that could prove this theory, by testing for the existence of DNA on Mars. Via Mashable:

Two high-profile entrepreneurs say they want to put a DNA sequencing machine on the surface of Mars in a bid to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life.

In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and company, Sythentic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from Mars.

Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to adapt his company’s “Personal Genome Machine” for Martian conditions.

Although neither team yet has a berth on Mars rocket, their plans reflect the belief that the simplest way to prove there is life on Mars is to send a DNA sequencing machine to the planet.

“There will be DNA life forms there,” Venter predicted Tuesday in New York, where he was speaking at the Wired Health Conference.

Venter said researchers working with him have already begun tests at a Mars-like test site in the Mojave Desert. Their goal, he said, is to demonstrate a machine capable of autonomously isolating microbes from soil, sequencing their DNA, and then transmitting the information to a remote computer, as would be required on an unmanned Mars mission. Heather Kowalski, a spokeswoman for Venter, confirmed the existence of the project, but also said the prototype system was “not yet 100% robotic.”

Looking for DNA on Mars won’t be easy. A robot would have to scoop up soil and prepare a sample automatically. The sequencing machine would need to work in cold temperatures and in a very thin atmosphere made mostly of CO2. Martian genes might also be different from those in the bodies of terrestrial animals, perhaps being made up of different chemical building blocks.

If they were to find the existence of DNA through this experiment, it would undeniably prove that extraterrestrial life does exist. We can’t wait to learn more about this project as new details emerge!

Until then, if you’re looking for a DNA project of your own, check out our custom DNA portraits

Comments are closed.

Looking for corporate art? Create a photo canvas for your office: Visit our sister site CanvasPop.