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I’m starting a project on space synthetic biology and how this self-identifying field is defining itself in relation to different histories and legal and policy regimes for biosafety. Synthetic biologists are increasingly publicly invoking outer space – from astronauts handing out industry awards, to a DNA synthesis company musing how synthetic biology could have helped The Martian’s stranded protagonist, to a TEDx talk on transforming human bodies for space colonization.
These frequent invocations connect synthetic biology to a grand narrative of outer space science and exploration, but at the same time, they are made casually, with no commitments.
Some synthetic biologists and astrobiologists are proposing a more substantive relationship between synthetic biology and outer space. They advocate the application of synthetic biology tools and approaches to outer space, mostly focused on engineering micro-organisms to such ends as: biomining regolith for metals, producing biofuels, growing enhanced algae as food, replacing medications that have degraded in cosmic radiation, and terraforming Mars.
Read full, original post: SynBio Perspectives: Biosafety on earth and beyond – planetary protection policies, biotechnology and space synthetic biology