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The Genesis Project: How to Grow Earth Life on Another Planet

Sep 09, 2016 04:52 AM EDT
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A scientist explores the possibility of turning an alien planet into a rich environment capable of hosting life.

In an essay published recently in the journal Astrophysics and Space Science, Dr. Claudius Gros from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany investigates whether it is possible to transform planets with transient habitability into a living one, like the Earth. Based on this premise, he came up with the Genesis Project, which could create life on an alien planet using a micro space probe and a miniaturized automated gene laboratory.

Over the last few years, scientists have been discovering different worlds beyond Earth, and these exoplanets vary in many aspects.

"It is therefore certain that we will discover a large number of exoplanets which are inhabitable intermittently but not permanently," Gros said in a statement. "Life would indeed be possible on these planets, but it would not have the time to grow and develop independently."

The Genesis mission involves an unmanned micro spacecraft carrying the automated gene laboratory. Prior to deployment, scientists will evaluate the target planet and decide which Earth organisms would be most suitable to grow in the planet's environment. Upon arrival, the nano-sized gene laboratory would synthesize a selection of single-cell organisms to grow on the target planet, and these would eventually develop and possibly turn into complex life forms.

"In this way, we could jump the approximately four billion years which had been necessary on Earth to reach the Precambrian stage of development out of which the animal world developed about 500 million years ago," Gros said.

According to Gros, the Genesis project has no direct benefit for people on Earth. "The Genesis project is about giving life [the chance] to evolve all by itself on other planets," he told Space.com.

Gros also added that the technology needed to send the life-carrying probes into space could be available in the next 50 to 100 years. According to Gros, the project will be influenced by the success of Breakthrough Starshot, a concept that aims to send laser-driven postage stamp-sized space probes or "nanocrafts" to the Alpha Centauri star system. Just recently, Yuri Milner, one of the founders of Breakthrough Starshot, expressed their interest in exploring Proxima B, a newly discovered Earth-like exoplanet.

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