A research team at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital are working on a lab-on-a-chip technology that can isolate, amplify, detect, and classify any DNA or RNA found in a soil sample. The hopeful source of the soil? Mars.
Called the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes (SETG), the team presented a summary on the current status of the technology at the IEEE Aerospace Conference this month as reported by the MIT News Office:
The MIT researchers’ device would take samples of Martian soil and isolate any living microbes that might be present, or microbial remnants (which can be preserved for about up to a million years and still contain viable DNA), and separate out the genetic material in order to use standard biochemical techniques to analyze their genetic sequences.
Importantly, this technology would be fully automated and small enough to be placed on a robot like the recent Mars Pathfinder missions.
Full article: Are you a Martian?
Research team page:Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes