Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Karen Kaplan reports in the LA Times that Craig Venter is making plans to send a DNA sequencer to Mars and assuming that there is DNA to be found on the Red Planet – a big assumption, to be sure – to decode its DNA, beam it back to Earth, put those genetic instructions into a cell and then boot up a Martian life form in a biosecure lab. Venter’s “biological teleporter” (as he dubbed it) would dig under the surface for samples to sequence. If they find anything, “it would take only 4.3 minutes to get the Martians back to Earth,” says Venter, founder of Celera Genomics and the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). “Now we can rebuild the Martians in a P4 spacesuit lab.” It may sound far-fetched, but the notion of equipping a future Mars rover to sequence the DNA isn’t so crazy and Venter isn’t the only one looking for Martian DNA. MIT research scientist Christopher Carr is part of a group that’s “building a a miniature RNA/DNA sequencer to search for life beyond Earth,” according to the MIT website "The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes". SETG will test the hypothesis that life on Mars, if it exists, shares a common ancestor with life on Earth. Carr told Tech Review that one of the biggest challenges is shrinking Ion Torrent’s 30-kilogram machine down to a mere 3 kg – light enough to fit on a Mars rover. “Top places to look include Mars, Enceladus, and Europa.”"
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