Sounds like science fiction possibly, however scientists are now developing a tool to perform DNA tests on the planet Mars in order to find and potentially identify life forms present. For many years now scientists have concluded the potential for life on Mars exists or previously existed due to its chemical composition and its historical pattern of orbit around the sun. While the discovery of any actual proof of life has eluded the scientific community up until today, a new DNA testing option specifically designed for use in the solar system may unlock some long kept secrets.
The potential to find DNA sources on Mars has up until just recently been met with the same obstacle: radiation. The levels of radiation currently present on Mars have previously left scientists to conclude that regardless of life forms potentially on Mars would be unable to be located and tested for due to radioactive eradication. Christopher Carr, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in collaboration with MIT’s vice president for research , and Maria Zuber, the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and from Massachusetts General hospital have developed a DNA sequencing microchip different from anything previously used to test for DNA.
The newly developed DNA sequencing chip has already proven to be able to decode a live virus after exposure to radiation levels equal to those which would be encountered on Mars. This scientific breakthrough could easily open the door to scientists looking to conclusively find and identify life on the red planet. An interesting article published on Sky News further consolidates the theory that life might have begun on mars. Visit the web page to read this article and learn more about our possible Martian ancestry.
Why Mars for life?
While Mars has long been regarded as a potential source for the first extraterrestrial life form to be discovered, life on Mars is certainly no picnic. Whether the life form in question exists now or was around hundreds or even thousands of years ago, it still faces one major impediment: the cold. Mars has an atmosphere similar to that of the earth except in one small detail: its composition. The atmosphere on Mars has approximately 100 less thickness and carbon dioxide in over-abundance. The combination results in staggeringly cold temperatures sometimes falling to as low as 195 degrees Fahrenheit (-126 Celsius), meaning anything living on the planet would have to be very resilient to say the least.
That said, the earth and Mars share very similar deep subsurface composure; meaning while life on the surface may be hard to survive, the interior of the planet much like earth’s, may hold microbial life forms.
Can life be found on Mars using DNA?
With harrowing temperature fluxuations combined with high radiation levels from the sun, the sequencing chip for DNA tests on Mars may still be something of fantasy. The reality of the DNA testing potential will be discovered once tests using Mar’s Rovers to put the sequencing chips to the test so to speak under the conditions present there. Many scientists are concerned that false positives for life on Mars may occur if the instrumentation on the sequencing microchip becomes damaged from any of the harsh conditions there. Only time will tell us for certain if the specially designed DNA sequencing chip will be able to take accurate DNA tests from material recovered from the planet. The discovery, however, certainly takes the world one step closer to the potential knowledge of life on Mars and is exciting to scientists and astronomers alike.
Further reading: Genes and patents
Recently the world’s leading news broadcasters discussed the issue of human gene patenting. The news caused out rage- the notion of “ownership” of genes and how this could be used to further financial gains rather than ethical ones, did indeed draw harsh criticism. Read our article here.