If you recently watched Prometheus and worried about that weird black goo making it back to earth, buckle your seat belts because it might be possible! Scientists have discovered that double-stranded DNA molecules can survive in the extreme conditions of outer space. A research team at the University of Zurich placed DNA molecules on the outer shell of the payload section of a rocket (the part for people and supplies). The scientists were not only surprised to find that the DNA was still on the outer shell when the rocket returned but also was functional when the DNA was transferred to bacterial cells.
The experiment called DARE (DNA Atmospheric Re-Entry Experiment) was led by Dr. Ullrich and Dr. Thiel who initially wanted to study the role of gravity in the regulation of gene expression in human cells in space. As they prepared for this experiment they thought it would also be interesting to use the outer shell of the rocket for stability tests for biomarkers during spaceflight. They set up a second mission and got these incredible results.
The findings have implications on how life originated on earth. Our DNA and the DNA of other organisms on earth could have come from other planets. 100 tons of meteors and dusts hit our planet daily and any number of them could be carrying DNA.
This discovery will become more important as we continue to explore space. Professor Ulrich notes, "The results show that it is by no means unlikely that, despite all the safety precautions, space ships could also carry terrestrial DNA to their landing site. We need to have this under control in the search for extraterrestrial life.” We all know aliens like to sneak onto ships but now they may be able to do it with more stealth. If this gave you goose bumps like it definitely did to Ridley Scott, then get ready for Prometheus 2.
Check out the original article here.