Life on Mars? Scientists hope to find it by decoding Martian DNA - ’We Can Rebuild Them’
2012-10-22 0:00

By Karen Kaplan | Phys.org





Apparently, there just aren’t enough genomes for Craig Venter to sequence here on Earth, so he’s making plans to send a DNA sequencer to Mars.


"There will be life forms there," Venter said, with his usual confidence, at a Wired Health conference this week in New York.


If he can build a machine to find it, the next steps would be to decode its DNA, beam it back to Earth, put those into a cell and then boot up a form in a biosecure lab.


It may sound far-fetched, but assuming that there is DNA to be found on the Red Planet - a big assumption, to be sure - the notion of equipping a future Mars rover to sequence the DNA isn’t so crazy.


Venter has already sent his yacht around the globe to scoop up seawater and sequence whatever DNA it found in . He has also been working on technology to create small genomes from scratch and insert them into living cells to bring these organisms to life. The difference now is that all of this technology would be applied to Mars.


It’s highly unlikely that any DNA-based life forms could survive on the , so Venter’s "biological teleporter" (as he dubbed it) would dig under the surface for samples to sequence. If they find anything, "it would take only 4.3 minutes to get the Martians back to Earth," he said. "Now we can rebuild the Martians in a P4 lab."


Venter isn’t the only one looking for Martian DNA. According to a report in the MIT Technology Review, so is Jonathan Rothberg, founder of the company Ion Torrent.


Rothberg is working with NASA-funded scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard to adapt his company’s Personal Machine for use on Mars, the report says. It’s part of a NASA astrobiology project known as the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes, or SETG.


MIT research scientist Christopher Carr is part of a group that’s "building a miniature RNA/ to search for life beyond Earth," according to his website. "Top places to look include Mars, Enceladus (a moon of Saturn), and Europa (a moon of Jupiter)."


Carr told Tech Review that one of the biggest challenges is shrinking Ion Torrent’s 30-kilogram machine down to a mere 3 kg - light enough to fit on a Mars rover.


That’s just one of the hurdles. NASA has no firm plans for a rover to succeed Curiosity, the lab-on-wheels that reached the Red Planet in August. Even if a new rover gets the green light, there’s no guarantee that a gene sequencer would get one of the coveted spots for research instruments.


Article from: phys.org





Related Articles
Mars Sample Return Mission? Naaah… Just Beam Back Martian DNA
Craig Venter On Mars DNA Plan: ’We Can Rebuild The Martians’ In Earth Lab
Darpa, Venter Launch Assembly Line for Genetic Engineering
J. Craig Venter Create Synthetic Life - Could it Wipe out Humanity?
Craig Venter creates first synthetic life form
’Darth Venter’ (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize
Ancient Foreign DNA Found in Modern Human DNA
“We could put the whole world’s knowledge in 4 grams of DNA”
Far From ‘Junk’, Bits of Mystery DNA Play Crucial Role


Latest News from our Front Page

41% of Americans Support Criminalizing "Hate Speech"
2015-05-23 7:31
The following are from a recent poll about what some are calling on for "hate speech" 1. Support for Hate Crimes Legislation Do you support or oppose the federal law that requires increased penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or gender of any person? 2. Support for Expanding Hate Crimes Do ...
FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers
2015-05-23 7:36
FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating. Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk ...
Sweetener Stevia Was Once Hailed As An Anti-Fertility Agent for Population Reduction
2015-05-23 7:13
Maybe it's not so sweet now... If you've thought stevia, the natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweetners with aspartame, et al., is too good to be true, there may be a catch. Check out this textbook written in 1970 by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the precursor to the textbook Ecoscience they wrote with Obama Science Czar John P. Holdren ...
TPP Aproved: Senate Republicans Give Obama New Powers - Details Remain 'Classified'
2015-05-23 6:43
President Obama won a big victory for his trade agenda Friday with the Senate’s approval of fast-track legislation that could make it easier for him to complete a wide-ranging trade deal that would include 11 Pacific Rim nations. A coalition of 48 Senate Republicans and 14 Democrats voted for Trade Promotion Authority late Friday, sending the legislation to a difficult fight ...
Circumcision battle: Mom seeks release from jail after federal lawsuit is dismissed
2015-05-23 3:22
West Boynton mother on Wednesday gave up trying to get a federal judge to stop her 4 1/2-year-old son from being circumcised as his father wishes — a battle that also led to her arrest May 14 on a state court warrant. An attorney for Heather Hironimus, who lost similar legal challenges in two state courts, notified U.S. District Judge Kenneth ...
More News »