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The Biomolecule Sequencer Project: Nanopore Sequencing as a Dual-Use Tool for Crew Health and Astrobiology Investigations
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Author and Affiliation:
John, K. K.(NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Postdoctoral Program, Houston, TX, United States);
Botkin, D. S.(JES Tech, Houston, TX, United States);
Burton, A. S.(NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States);
Castro-Wallace, S. L.(NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States);
Chaput, J. D.(California Univ., Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Irvine, CA, United States);
Dworkin, J. P.(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States);
Lehman, N.(Portland State Univ., Dept. of Chemistry, OR, United States);
Lupisella, M. L.(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States);
Mason, C. E.(Cornell Univ., Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics, New York, NY, United States);
Smith, D. J.(NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States);
Stahl, S(Wyle Labs., Inc., Houston, TX, United States);
Switzer, C.(California Univ., Dept. of Chemistry, Riverside, CA, United States)
Abstract: Human missions to Mars will fundamentally transform how the planet is explored, enabling new scientific discoveries through more sophisticated sample acquisition and processing than can currently be implemented in robotic exploration. The presence of humans also poses new challenges, including ensuring astronaut safety and health and monitoring contamination. Because the capability to transfer materials to Earth will be extremely limited, there is a strong need for in situ diagnostic capabilities. Nucleotide sequencing is a particularly powerful tool because it can be used to: (1) mitigate microbial risks to crew by allowing identification of microbes in water, in air, and on surfaces; (2) identify optimal treatment strategies for infections that arise in crew members; and (3) track how crew members, microbes, and mission-relevant organisms (e.g., farmed plants) respond to conditions on Mars through transcriptomic and genomic changes. Sequencing would also offer benefits for science investigations occurring on the surface of Mars by permitting identification of Earth-derived contamination in samples. If Mars contains indigenous life, and that life is based on nucleic acids or other closely related molecules, sequencing would serve as a critical tool for the characterization of those molecules. Therefore, spaceflight-compatible nucleic acid sequencing would be an important capability for both crew health and astrobiology exploration. Advances in sequencing technology on Earth have been driven largely by needs for higher throughput and read accuracy. Although some reduction in size has been achieved, nearly all commercially available sequencers are not compatible with spaceflight due to size, power, and operational requirements. Exceptions are nanopore-based sequencers that measure changes in current caused by DNA passing through pores; these devices are inherently much smaller and require significantly less power than sequencers using other detection methods. Consequently, nanopore-based sequencers could be made flight-ready with only minimal modifications.
Publication Date: Mar 21, 2016
Document ID:
(Acquired Mar 02, 2016)
Report/Patent Number: JSC-CN-35151
Document Type: Conference Paper
Meeting Information: Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 47th; 21-25 Mar. 2016; The Woodlands, TX ; United States
Meeting Sponsor: Lunar and Planetary Inst.; Houston, TX, United States
Financial Sponsor: NASA Johnson Space Center; Houston, TX, United States
Organization Source: NASA Johnson Space Center; Houston, TX, United States
Description: 2p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: Copyright; Distribution as joint owner in the copyright
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