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The Role of Synthetic Biology in NASA's MissionsThe time has come to for NASA to exploit synthetic biology in pursuit of its missions, including aeronautics, earth science, astrobiology and most notably, human exploration. Conversely, NASA advances the fundamental technology of synthetic biology as no one else can because of its unique expertise in the origin of life and life in extreme environments, including the potential for alternate life forms. This enables unique, creative "game changing" advances. NASA's requirement for minimizing upmass in flight will also drive the field toward miniaturization and automation. These drivers will greatly increase the utility of synthetic biology solutions for military, health in remote areas and commercial purposes. To this end, we have begun a program at NASA to explore the use of synthetic biology in NASA's missions, particular space exploration. As part of this program, we began hosting an iGEM team of undergraduates drawn from Brown and Stanford Universities to conduct synthetic biology research at NASA Ames Research Center. The 2011 team ( produced an award-winning project on using synthetic biology as a basis for a human Mars settlement.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Rothschild, Lynn J.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Date Acquired
September 9, 2016
Publication Date
September 7, 2016
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: International Colston Research Symposium on Synthetic Biology
Location: Bristol
Country: United Kingdom
Start Date: September 7, 2016
Sponsors: Bristol Univ.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
synthetic biology
alternate life forms
NASA missions
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