Exponential acceleration of genomic sequencing and manipulation capabilities is quickly bringing us into an era where designer organisms unlike anything on Earth are fully possible. In addition to potential benefits for future human exploration of Mars, such a high-profile project could be an exciting catalyst for other efforts in synthetic biology.
The winning team will develop a novel organism capable of replicating under Martian surface conditions, including temperature, pressure, atmospheric composition, soil moisture and irradiance. Organisms will be tested in a Mars surface simulator for a minimum of 30 days and at least two replication cycles. In addition to selfreplication, candidate biosystems should provide some output useful to future Mars explorers, such as oxygen, food, fuel or bioprocessing capabilities.
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