Dr John Craig Venter, best known for being among the first to fully sequence the human genome and for creating the first living cell with an entirely synthetic genome, has set his sights on a new horizon -- Mars. Venter wants to find life on Mars and remotely transmit it back to Earth, in the form of a digital genome sequence, to be synthesized into an exact carbon-copy of the original. Though the idea seems like something out of a science fiction movie, it's actually realistically possible and Venter's team are already hard at work developing the technology.
In recent years, DNA sequencing has become more widely available and cheaper, due to fast sequencing methods. These faster methods have led to tremendous strides of progress in research in the field of biology and in the development of biomedical technologies. There are few who are more versed on the subject than Dr Venter, who in 2001 became one the first scientists to ever map an entire human genome. With the technology in hand to quickly sequence the genomes of alien organisms, the data set would be sent back to Earth for replication.
The synthesizing process entails chemically recreating the organisms genome and then inserting it into what is, in essence, a blank cell. The cell would then be brought to life -- not with lightning bolts, as one might think, but through the DNA taking hold in it's new host environment. The DNA infused with the blank cell would begin to take control and eventually form a complete copy of the original organism.
The technology is a long way from being able to duplicate the likes of a wookiee, but Venter hopes it could be used in the near future to remotely replicate things like genes, viruses, and bacteria. The technology was already been put into action during the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China. Venter's team was able to create the two main genes they needed to make a vaccine strain, without waiting for a sample of the virus to be delivered from China.
Eventually, Dr. Venter foresee a future with little bio-printers attached to your computer that can be used to print vital biological agents, without ever having the need for a hard copy. The ability to transmit things like antibiotics and even proteins could become as easy as sending an email.