Lisa Nip, a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology states that people may face the improper conditions of life from outer space if they were subjected to genetic changes. Thus, problems like the atmosphere from other planets which is too rarefied, the microgravity or the strong cosmic radiation could be confronted by using genes from some of the most resistant organisms on Earth, according to Live #Science.
TED lectures (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a series of global conferences organized by Sapling -- an American non-profit Foundation, in order to spread the ideas that they consider to be worthy of promotion.
Can genetic engineering help people survive in space?
With the help of the tools of synthetic biology (an area of research that combines biology and engineering), the scientists could "build" genetically modified people, as well as plants or bacteria to create new habitats on other planets. This is a process known as ''terraforming."
According to Nip -- the use of the tools of genetic engineering would be more effective for this purpose, than the building of hermetically sealed enclosures to protect the astronauts from the potential hostile environment on Mars, for example.
Astronauts face difficulties in space
The human body is perfectly adapted, after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution to the oxygen-rich environment with moderate temperatures from Earth. But this perfect adaptation to terrestrial life is a major impediment for space explorers. In outer space, the environmental conditions are far more severe than on Earth. Astronauts face problems such as the microgravity that weakens the bones and affects the myocardium. In addition, the exposure to cosmic radiation, even for short periods of time, can irreparably damage the human DNA.
Even on Mars -- the next target of the US space program -- which is by far the most "hospitable" of the other seven planets of the solar system, the average temperature is -- 65 degrees, there is no precipitation, the ultra rarefied atmospheres offers no protection against the dangerous cosmic radiation and the soil is completely sterile (similar to the volcanic ash from Hawaii) -- according to Lisa Nip.
So, instead of hiding the astronauts behind walls of lead or making them wear heavy armor, it would be better for them to take over the attributes from other organisms living in conditions considered unfit for life. For example, one of the strongest such organisms is the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans, which can survive (without any side effects) exposure to an amount of ionizing radiation 100 times higher than the dose sufficient to kill a human being.