Faxing Life from Mars

Image of Mars

Image of Mars taken by the Curiosity rover

If you thought it was amazing to be able to send a piece of paper through a machine and then it will instantly appear on the other side of the world then you’re in for a surprise.  What if you can do the same with DNA?  Yes, DNA.  The structured code that builds live bodies.

Fax Machine

The good old fax machine

So technically this technology won’t only be available between Earth and Mars.  It could be used to “communicate” between whichever two planets you want to.  Although this is still a work in progress it could be a massive leap forward for mankind and its future.  The idea is to find DNA on a planet and then sequence it and send the sequence to Earth where it can be cultured and developed in a lab. And by develop they mean creating a living alien organism.

That is right.  By creating the technology to instantly transfer DNA sequence to a lab on Earth there can just as easily pop up an alien on Earth.  This makes you wonder if we will be able to contain and study the organism.

Before any of that can happen there is a lot of research and development that have to take place.  There also are a few conditions that need to be met for the technology to be used.  First you actually need to find life on Mars or wherever.  Then you have to hope that the specific life form actually uses DNA or RNA that can be sequenced. Only then can you sequence the DNA and send it to Earth for processing.

DNA sequencing

A representation of DNA sequencing

At the head of this project is the scientist, Craig Venter who is famous for his sequencing of the human genome.  In his book called “Life at the speed of light:  From the double Helix to the Dawn of the Digital Age”, he makes the proposition that researchers can analyze DNA on Mars and then “radio” it back to Earth to synthesize.

Still there is the problem of the machines.  The machines which will create the organism.  The whole project relies on the DNA that is sequenced to be built into an actual organism so mankind can get a better understanding of life other than that of humans.  This can give great insight into what other kind of life forms can be out in the solar system.  We could finally find out if all life forms are actually carbon based.

Although all of the work on actually faxing life from Mars is based largely on assumptions, if this work does end successfully then the costs to transfer DNA sequencing information to Earth will be cut immensely.  This will be incredibly good for research on alien life.  Not having to transport specimens with a space craft saves on time and money and we all know that is a good thing.  Seems mankind is really moving forward.

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