NASA TESTING DNA SEQUENCING FOR SPACE APPLICATATIONS

NASA TESTING DNA SEQUENCING FOR SPACE APPLICATATIONS

May 23, 2016 By Joseph P. Farrell

Yesterday, you'll recall, I blogged about that very strange "ESD Dad 'commercial'" that appears to be connected to the new Independence Day movie sequel, with its strange use of US Army logo and website address. I left that one dangling in mid-air, you'll recall, but I also suspect that your mind was running and playing out the same "high octane speculations and implications" as mine was when I was made aware of it.

In that light and context, consider this story shared by Mr. R.B.:

Sequencing DNA in the Palm of Your Hand

Now consider just the first four paragraphs of this one, for they contain (in my opinion) some real zingers:

Much like the miniature, goggle-wearing yellow organisms of the big screen that live to serve, a tiny new device called the MinION™, developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies, promises to help scientists sequence DNA in space. NASA’s Biomolecule Sequencer investigation is a technology demonstration of the device.

The investigation’s objectives include providing proof-of-concept for the device’s functionality and evaluation of crew operability of a DNA sequencer in the International Space Station’s microgravity environment. While the petite device is already being used to sequence DNA on Earth, it has never been used to do so in space.

Determining the sequence of DNA is a powerful way to characterize organisms and determine how they are responding to changes in the environment. The goal of this technology demonstration is to provide evidence that DNA sequencing in space is possible, which holds the potential to enable the identification of microorganisms, monitor changes in microbes and humans in response to spaceflight, and possibly aid in the detection of DNA-based life elsewhere in the universe.

“The ultimate goal is to be able to do on the space station or on Mars the things we are able to do normally on Earth when we sequence DNA,” said investigator Douglas Botkin, Ph.D. “We want to replicate the laboratory environment, the high-tech equipment and those processes we use terrestrially, and try to demonstrate that functionality in a microgravity environment.”(Emphasis added)

It was that little mention of Mars that, among other things, caused my "suspicion meter" to wiggle a bit: did we just get yet another one of those ambiguously tacit admissions from Never A Straight Answer (NASA) that they strongly suspect (or know) of life on Mars? Notice also their hopes that the technology might be adapted to the "detection of DNA-based life elsewhere in the universe." Of course, all the focus here is on "microbes" and similar "small-sized stuff," but what can be used for microbes can also be used, as the article indicates, for humans and other "large stuff." And of course, such a technology could be very handy right here on Earth for determining, as the article suggests, changes in human DNA due to "outside influence," or even(to really let the high octane imagine run wild here) to test for people that look like us and talk and walk like us, but who aren't us, but merely "genetic cousins," so one has to wonder exactly what's going on here...

... especially in the light of yesterday's blog about strange commercials for "space soldiers" being run in conjunction with the new sequel to Independence Day and with US Army logo and website links very prominently displayed. Are we being given a glimpse into some deeper reality that is perhaps taking place, or about to take place, "out there"? Or, as usual, is my imagination and ever-so-dubiously performing suspicion meter giving me another false positive?

You tell me....