DNA sequencer used under sea for first time ever as part of NEEMO 21 mission

DNA sequencer used under sea for first time ever as part of NEEMO 21 mission

For the first time ever, a DNA sequencer has been used underneath the sea as part of a 16-day NASA astronaut mission at the Atlantic Ocean’s bottom to get ready for travel to the Red Planet and other deep space ventures.

Astronaut Reid Wiseman, who posted an image of the DNA sequencer in action, said that the team has been conducting tests for the International Space Station (ISS) and future Mars operations.

The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 21 undersea mission has planned to make the team all set for the severe conditions linked to Mars, and for the testing of tools and techniques that may be used on board missions to Mars.

The US space agency said, “Much like space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. NEEMO crew members, known as aquanauts, experience some of the same challenges there that they would on a distant asteroid, planet or moon”.

The crew is present in Aquarius, the sole undersea research station worldwide, situated at 5.6km (3.5 miles) off the coast of Key Largo in Florida and alongside deep coral reefs.

Dubbed as Minion, the handheld DNA sequencer has also been tested on the ISS. The sequencer can be utilized to test organisms, which may also include alien life forms. Crew members present on Aquarius and the space station going to carry out numerous tests to find out that whether the device works the same way as it does on land or not.

While speaking to Live Science, NASA microbiologist Sarah Wallace said that the one piece of equipment could prove very useful for them, in different exploration missions, research and crew health-related matters.

There are numerous applications of the Minion as it can be used to test for microbes, to check the health of the crew, and to test for DNA and DNA-like molecules apt for hunt for life on Mars.



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