Recently, some NASA astronauts have managed to successfully sequence the DNA of certain microbes they found on the international Space Station. This is a very important step as it is the first time unknown organisms have been identified in space. Usually, when microbes needed to be identified, the astronauts were sending them to Earth. According to an official statement, this is a very big step, especially when it comes to diagnosing illnesses in astronauts. Also, thanks to this, we might be able to one day identify other forms of life which have DNA as their base.
The experiment was a complete success, as researchers on Earth verified its accuracy. Everything began last year when astronauts on the International Space Station touched a petri plate on various surfaces. Then, they grew the bacteria they found into colonies. Peggy Whitson, the famous NASA astronaut, was the one who sequenced their DNA.
Sequencing DNA in space
In 2016, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins was the one who sequenced DNA in space for the first time in history. It was also the first time when someone identified unknown organisms in space and the first time cells were transferred. For the research, Rubins used mouse DNA which she received from Earth.
It’s worth noting that when Whitson was leading the experiment and preparing to sequence the DNA, Hurricane Harvey happened. Fortunately, the Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manage to contact microbiologist Sarah Wallace. She then guided Whitson and managed to sequence the DNA.
According to Wallace, the analysis revealed a lot of interesting things. They found a large number of microorganisms. Still, these findings needed validation which the astronauts received once the samples arrived on Earth for tests. In September 2017, this validation came and proved that the experiment was a real success. This was a huge step forward, and ne that might help astronauts and experts greatly in the future.
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