Beam me up a virus, Scotty
Sending life to Mars in minutes
I know we were promised the first humans on Mars by now, but it turns out, making the seven-month journey is pretty rough on people, and we’re not ready to risk it yet. Our robots and rovers have been busy on Mars, building landing zones and habitats, and preparing the soil for the first plants.
Now we’re ready to send a small organism to be cultivated on Mars, to see if it will survive. Sending a mothership all that way, just for a microbe, would be a costly waste, if the experiment fails.
But wait, the last shipment of droids and equipment included a bioprinter, a machine that can synthesize biological material, like DNA, RNA and viruses, from digital genetic codes. So we’ll just ’email’ our test microbe to Mars.
Think of it as ‘teleporting’ life. The genetic code, in a digital file, is uploaded to Mars – it takes an hour or two – and once received, the bioprinter can start assembling the organism from DNA chemical building blocks, literally printing out the genes one base pair at a time.
If it works, this experiment could one day herald the spread of simple life forms, like plants and fungi, to the outer planets, without having to travel in life-supporting spacecraft for years. And when humans do colonize Mars, we can send them vaccines or fresh seeds and better varietals; or perhaps beneficial insects.
Beam me up a new potato plant Scotty, the last crop has wilted!
Warning: Hazardous thinking at work
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