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Mars Space Worms Science

How Tiny Worms Could Help Humans Colonize Mars 101

Pierre Bezukhov writes "The roundworm has about 20,000 protein-coding genes — nearly as many as humans, who have about 23,000. Furthermore, there is a lot of overlap between our genome and theirs, with many genes performing roughly the same functions in both species. Launching C. elegans roundworms to Mars would allow scientists to see just how dangerous the high radiation levels found in deep space — and on the Red Planet's surface — are to animal life. 'Worms allow us to detect changes in growth, development, reproduction and behavior in response to environmental conditions such as toxins or in response to deep space missions,' said Nathaniel Szewczyk of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. 'Given the high failure rate of Mars missions, use of worms allows us to safely and relatively cheaply test spacecraft systems prior to manned missions,' he adds."
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How Tiny Worms Could Help Humans Colonize Mars

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  • Ethics? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @06:31PM (#38220156)

    Hmm, it seems to me that although the idea of sending some biological system to mars might be fruitful in the near term it misses some pretty important ethical questions. Specifically contamination, what if there is some life form on mars? How would the process of decay of the worms effect such a ecology by propagating organic earth native compounds onto martian soil? It seems quiet obvious to me that radiation results in mutation and destruction of organic life especially if exposed for long durations. I am assuming they might even be genetically modified to hold up to such harsh conditions and see how such manipulation aids in reducing the environmental impact on the biological systems.

    Overall, the missing component is realizing that mars has its own history, its own progress and adding earth forms like these into the system might perturb or even destroy any evidence living life on mars.

  • by drerwk ( 695572 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @06:35PM (#38220232) Homepage
    GP in first sentence says yeast is better than C.elegans. So I say send a beer to Mars, say a nice Belgian Trappist Ale.

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