Space Forensics Might Point to a Martian Ancestry Analysis
by Ray Villard
Sat Mar 26, 2011 06:03 PM ET
Our search for life beyond Earth could take us down the road to a shocking look into the mirror -- a climax straight out of a Twilight Zone plot.
A team of researchers at MIT is proposing to apply forensic science testing on the Martian surface. Specifically, the task would be to do DNA and RNA sequencing on Martian microbes (if they exist) to see if they share a common genetic origin with us.
This addresses the novel question of panspermia -- that we are descended from Mars life that migrated to Earth. Such testing could also offer key insights into how serious a risk Martian microbes would present to human colonists.
The MIT team led by Christopher Carr and Maria Zuber (head of MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences) and Gary Ruvkun, a molecular biologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, are proposing to build an instrument to send to Mars and test for extraterrestrial genomes.
Despite the numerous landers and rovers we've sent already, the only surface biology experiments were carried out in a bold but premature effort in 1976 aboard the trailblazing NASA Viking landers. The confusing results from these tests remain controversial and ambiguous today.
Invaders From Space
Such a mini-forensics lab would test the hypothesis that life on Earth may have come from Mars. The Martians didn't arrive in spaceships, but microbes hitchhiking aboard meteorites blasted off Mars by ancient impacts. After millions of years in space, the meteorites would fall onto Earth and the microbes adapt to a new home.
There's another pic at the site that I couldn't get to paste right on here. You will see it at the beginning of the article.
To read the rest, click below:
http://news.discovery.com/space/space-f ... 10326.html